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  CSPAN    U.S. Senate    News/Business.  

    May 15, 2013
    12:00 - 5:01pm EDT  

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vote:
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the presiding officer: is there any senator in the chamber wishing to vote?
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their votes? if not, the yeas are 83, the nays are 14. the bill as amended is passed. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask the senate proceed to a period of morning business until 2:00 p.m. today with senators permitted to speak up to ten minutes each. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent at 2:00 p.m. the senate proceed to executive session to calendar number 40, and 92, that the time until 4:30 be equally divided in the usual form, senator baucus control the time from 4:15 to 4:30, upon the use or yielding back of that time the senate proceed to vote with no intervening action or debate on the nominations in the order listed with two minutes for debate between the
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votes and t second vote be ten minutes in length. the motion to reconsider b considered made and laid on the table with no intervening action or debate and no further motions be in order to the nominations, any statements printed in the record, the president immediately notified of the senate's action and the senate resume legislative session. i yield to my friend from oregon. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. wyden: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i appreciate leader reid yielding this time and senator mcconnell being on the floor for this and i'll be brief. as i discussed earlier this morning, yesterday's new report from the congressional budget office highlights why it would be so important to have a conference committee between the house and the senate go to work on the budget. what the congressional budget office reported yesterday was a 24% reduction in the budget
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deficit. really quite a remarkable projection. and coupled with the improving jobs and housing numbers, you now have, madam president, economic experts across the political spectrum -- for example, people like glen hubbard, a leading republican economist, saying it's important for the congress to look at these long-term economic challenges. in fact, you have economic experts of both political parties saying washington ought to be doing more about the long-term economic challenges and not just have the day-to-day kind of battling. going to a budget conference will give us that opportunity. it will give us the opportunity to look at the ten-year budget window, and particularly issues like health care and taxes. so in the name of dealing with those long-term economic challenges, which i think was highlighted by yesterday's
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projections i ask unanimous consent the senate proceed to the consideration of calendar number 33, h. con. res. 35, the amendment at the desk, the text of hssments connecticut res. be inserted in lieu thereof, that s. con. res. 35 be agreed to agreed to, the motion to reconsider be considered, made and laid nonmonday the table, the senate insist on its amendment and insist on a conference and the chair authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the senate all with no intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. mcconnell: reserving the right to object. the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i would ask it not be in order to consider tax increases or reconciliation instructions to increase taxes or raise the debt limit. the presiding officer: does the senator so modify his request? mr. wyden: i do not, madam president. the point that i have tried to
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make is that the congressional budget office didn't talk about the senate relitigating the past discussion. mr. mr. mcconnell: is that an objection? the presiding officer: does the senator object to the modification? mr. wyden: i do. the presiding officer: objection is heard. is there objection to the senator from oregon's original request? mr. mcconnell: i object. the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: if i could be recognized for another brief moment, this highlights how unfortunate it is that we don't look to the future as the congressional budget office projections really laid out for us yesterday. the congressional budget office didn't talk about relitigating the past votes here in the united states senate. they said specifically the deficit was significantly lower than earlier projected, which
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on the basis of what i've just cited, economic experts of both political parties saying it's time to look to the long-term challenges, particularly medicare and taxes. i came today to say that a budget conference would provide that kind of window, an opportunity to look, particularly at long-term health care challenges like chronic care and medicare. i see my colleague from the senate finance committee, he knows we've been talking about tax reform, democrats and republicans. again, a bipartisan opportunity that we could achieve through a conference. i've proposed that today based on that new evidence yesterday, and regrettably we can't go to conference because, it seems, that the leader on the other side will only go to conference if we can relitigate the stuff that happened in the united states senate which he lost on. so i hope that colleagues will
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look at that new congressional budget office report, they'll look at the jobs picture, the housing starts, all of which seems to be improving in the short term and will pay more attention to what economic experts of both political parties are saying, we ought to be looking to our long-term challenges, particularly in health care and taxes, with the senate conference -- budget conference between the house and the senate providing an opportunity to look at that ten-year window, we could do exactly what economic experts of both political parties are talking about. i think it's unfortunate we have not been given that opportunity today and i hope we'll be given it in the days ahead. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from new york. mr. schumer: thank you, madam president. first i thank my colleague from oregon for offering his proposal and sorry it was rejected. we should be going to conference on the budget. there is no question about it. it's hard for us to understand
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how on the other side people have been railing for four years you didn't have a budget, now we have a budget and they don't want to move forward with it. that's not what i rose to speak about today. i rise to express my -- first i also want to say to tropical storm california and the senator from louisiana, job well done. the wrda bill was a very good bill and it will help both the port of new york city, one of the great ports of the world, as well as our great lake ports which are having their own troubles in terms of dredging. but there was an extreme disappointment in the bill, no fault of my colleague from california. i'm extremely disappointed at the objection some of my colleagues raised to even allowing a vote on the landrieu amendment to the wrda bill. and i, along with senator landrieu and others, will keep fighting until this commonsense amendment passes. i'm speaking of amendment number
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888. i was proud to cosponsor it. very simply, it would delay for five years any premium increases resulting from revised flood maps. the purpose of the amendment was to provide fema enough time to complete the study they were required to complete over a month ago on affordability of increased premiums. senator toomey is right, we just passed a flood insurance reauthorization ten months ago but it was always the intent -- many of us worked hard on that -- under biggert-waters, that fema would conduct an affordability study before higher premiums would go into effect. that way congress could review the findings and recommendations and address important issues related to affordability and neighborhood sustainability. senator landrieu's amendment was carefully crafted to give fema time to complete its study then allow congress six months to respond. for technical reasons, she amended it to a straight
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five-year delay. i thought that was better. but the purpose was the same. the logic is irrefutable. why bother to do a study at all if we're going to just allow fema to charge ahead and start raising premiums all over the country? and i say this to my colleagues, the senator from louisiana knows it well, we know it well in new york, but you're going to be finding out across the country that flood insurance premiums are going to rise so high that they're unaffordable to average middle-class people. what do you say to the homeowner who's forced to -- into the choice of either paying crushing flood premiums or leaving their home and their neighborhood? do we say to them, sorry, we just couldn't get around to thinking about difficult cases like yours just yet? that's not going to stand. that's not fair. it's not acceptable. i note for my colleagues who might think this is just a hurricane sandy related issue,
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itacin this situation because our flood maps are being revised, a process that was well underway before sandy. so the increased premiums many new yorkers could well face will face all of your constituents. as fema starts revising flood maps -- and they're increasing the number of homes included and increasing the level at which homeowners have to pay -- every one of you is going to be facing the same problem we're facing in new york. $9,500 for flood insurance for someone who makes $40,000 or $50,000 and lives in a modest home? forget it. we can't have that. and i will tell fema right now, that will not stand. something will give because the situation is untenable. the original bill provided for a study and then congress could act on that study and modify the bill. but now we're moving forward
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without even the study being done. in fact, people in some states are already seeing their premiums rise up to 25% a year and many more states will be covered over the next two years. if you think it's just coastal states, like my state of new york and the state of louisiana, it is not, in fact, according to fema, my friend, senator toomey's, home state is one of the states that relies most heavily on flood insurance. pennsylvania ranks seventh in the total amount of nfip payouts, seventh in the number of claims filed since the program began. so we all have an interest to get this right that we proceed with eyes wide open in attempts to bring the flood insurance on to sounder financial footing, that we have the benefit of all the data and analysis we need. my prediction, if we don't change this? there will be no flood
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insurance. or at the very minimum, we will let it be optional for everybo everybody, let people decide. because to force people between paying an amount they can't afford and forcing people to leave their homes is a choice this congress will ultimately not abide for. it's important to remember, if people can't afford flood insurance, they're going to drop out of the program, their communities might not adopt new flood maps when proposed because they know the cost is prohibitive. when future disasters hit, these families and communities will be entirely dependent on federal aid to help them rebuild and that will cost the taxpayers even more. so it's important we ensure that the program is both financially sound and accessible to ordinary middle-class families. something is very wrong with a program that requires middle-class families to pay over $10,000 a year for a policy of coverage that's capped at
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$250,000. now, you may ask, why am i so passionate about this issue? because i visited too many families, too many communities in new york city and upstate new york where the prospects of higher premiums are causing residents to rethink whether they can even afford to remain in the homes in which they've lived, many of them for their whole lives. afford to live in the neighborhoods they grew up in, where their family and friends live, where their children go to school. families are being forced to make this choice in neighbors from staten island to the rockaways to massapequa and east. and upstate in places like scoharey county and the southern tier counties like broom, tiago, northern -- north country counties like essex.i. it would be ashame if we allowed this to - -- a shame if we allod this to happen. all because people daint get around to -- didn't get around to studying the impact of higher flood rates and congress didn't respond. so i hope, madam president, that by the time new york's maps are
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completed and new yorkers have completed the process of rebuilding in the wake of sandy, fears of $10,000 flood insurance premiums for middle-class homes will prove to have been incorrect. but right now those fears are very real and they're putting the future of some of new york's most tightly knit middle-class neighborhoods at risk. as i noted previously, new york's flood maps were in the process of being revised before sandy hit, but in the wake of sandy, it adds insult to injury when families who are spending their entire savings to repair their home are told that in a year or two they may not be able to afford living there. in conclusion, madam president, i'm disappointed we didn't get a vote on this bill but i will keep pushing and pushing and pushing until this awful situation is rectified. i know senator landrieu will. i know senator vitter will. the issue is too important to too many new yorkers and too many americans and i will not
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stop until we get a vote and until we ultimately succeed. i am confident many more of my colleagues will begin to hear from their constituents about the challenges they're facing as flood premiums are increased and they will see the wisdom of senator landrieu's amendment and congress will ultimately act to fix this problem once and for all. with that, i appreciate my colleagues giving me the time and yield the floor. mrs. boxer: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: madam president, i think the senator from new york is pointing out an issue that senator vitter and i agree with, which is that we should have had a vote on the landrieu-vitter amendment which would have definitely moved in the direction of ensuring that people's insurance rates for flood protection don't go through the roof. it was very disappointing that the senator from pennsylvania, senator toomey, opposed having even a vote on this.
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but you know what? we'll have other days in the sun, i say to my friend, where we will deal with this issue because it's just too important to too many people across the nation. but i don't want that to dim what just happened here in the united states senate. i don't want the fact that there was one disappointment to take away from what just happened in the senate. and what just happened in the senate is that 83 colleagues, 83 strong, voted for the water resources development act that came out of the environment and public works committee with a very strong unanimous vote and that senator vitter and i, working together for the first time on a big bill like this, were able to put aside other differences and come together in an area where we both agree and that is that it is essential to have a strong infrastructure in the greatest nation in the world and in our states. it is essential that people not be worried that bridges will fall, that they won't have good
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roads, that they won't have their ports deepened so that they can accept these big ships that go in and out, that they will be vulnerable to flooding and that they will not be able to restore wetlands, which are so critical to preventing floo floods. this bill is so critical to the infrastructure and to the environment. anyone who's been to the everglades knows how critical it is to make sure the everglades remain. it's a gift from god and we have the responsibility. anyone who knows the chesapeake bay knows how important it is to ensure that it's healthy, and we do that in this bill. and we do our best to ensure that the types of flooding that we saw in katrina will be minimized. we made many, many reforms and i feel good about them. now i really have to say, without the staff, none of this would be possible. i am so blessed and so is
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senator vitter to have the kind of staff that we have. they are dedicated. the hours that they work have no bounds. the other night we were talking at 11:00, my staff was there. this type of a bill is not easy to get through because every state has its own needs, every state has its own challenges, every state has its own problems. and we were able, because of our staffs working endlessly to meet the needs, i believe, of the whole country and that's why we have votes from the entire country. we have votes from so many states because this bill is truly reflective of the needs of our communities. so i want to say to betina porier, my chief of staff and chief counsel, you certainly know how to get a bill through, you certainly know how to manage a staff, and you certainly have made wise decisions in terms of your staff.
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we have jason albritten and ted ilssten and david napoliao and andrew dorman. there's only one, two, three, four, five -- six names that i mentioned, and they handled this bill from essentially a hundred different smarts pounding on your door, including this senator, saying what and why and how. and you answered it. i also want to close by thanking some other wonderful staffers of senator reid's, gary myrick, tim mitchell, bill douster, alex mcdonnugh. and i have to say, tyler cusick of the budget committee who helped us and rema doden who came in and really helped us make sure we had the votes when we needed the votes. and i'm going to make one thank you. i know senator vitter's going to name his staff and i'm not going to mention one of their names. but he speaks for me when he thanks them.
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but there's one person and that's neil chattergy and i hope i don't ruin his career by thanking him. he works for senator mcconnell. he helped us greatly. just know the lay of the land. he said, this is where we have problems, this is where we can come together. and i'll tell you something, madam president, managing these bills, you just need to know where you stand and you need to know where you are. so having the support of both senator reid and senator mcconnell and their staffs have just made our world a lot easier. so we say to the house, this is your chance, step up to the plate. i know that congressman shuster, chairman shuster over there really wants a bill. we stand ready to work with him. i think our bill provides a road map. and with that, i want to again say to senator vitter, it has been just terrific to work with you on this and i look forward to continuing our collaboration any time and any place that we can come together. and with that, i would yield the floor. mr. vitter vitter: madam presid? the presiding officer: the
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senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: madam president, i stand to echo all of those thoughts and let me also thank a a -- start with a lot of overdue thanks. fist of all, let me thank a great partner in chairman boxer. as she said many times, we don't agree about a lot of things, including important things within the jurisdiction of our committee, but we can come together constructively, really productively on the infrastructure side of our committee, both highway infrastructure and water infrastructure, and that's what we wanted to do from the very beginning on this bill. and the crucial element to any success like this is the will and the determination to do it. we both had that bu but i really thank her for her leadership in that regard and being a great partner in that regard. and i certainly echo all of her thoughts about the staff work. and i'm deeply, deeply indebted to all of the staff work,
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particularly on my side, that went into this bill. the chair and i personally dealt with probably a couple a dozen issues and semi crises that would crop up over time. but if we did that with a couple of dozen, our staffs did that with hundreds and solved those problems to the satisfaction of a huge number of members and that was reflected in the vote. so i really thank my staff -- both staffs, but i'm particularly indebted to my staff for all of that hard work, particularly zack bay, charles brittingham, chris tamasi, sara leech, rebecca louvier, luke bowler and cheyenne steele. they all put in enormous hours -- of course, charles more than anyone else, but they all put in enormous hours, and i really thank them for excellent
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work. i also want to emphasize what a positive bill this is, madam president. i talked a few minutes ago right before the vote about the strengths of the bill from a national point of view, jobs, waterborne commerce, reform of the corps of engineers. this bill is also really important for my home state of louisiana, and i just want to underscore that in closing. three areas that's particularly important. first of all, we have a lot of important flood control hurricane protection projects, and this bill moves a number of those projects forward in a crucial way. projects like the louisiana coastal area ecosystem projects, the protection of lefouche and terribone parishes and surrounding areas. also the hurricane protection
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project. that is right in the middle of where hurricane isaac hit. and the southwest louisiana coastal hurricane protection study. finally, although it's not as far along, there is really important work with regard to st. tamani and other coastal parishes, achieving flood protection in those areas, including a barrier at the lake or near the lake, lake pontchartrain for st. tamani, and that will move forward because of this bill. the second big category in the bill is corps of engineers reform and accountability. those of us who lived through hurricane katrina saw some of the best and unfortunately some of the worst of what the federal government has to offer, and on the side that needs improvement is improvement we need streamlining and reform at certain agencies including the corps of engineers. this bill brings that reform to
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the corps of engineers in a number of important areas like the proposal senator nelson of florida and i have. it also streamlines and expedites the process, particularly with regard to environmental review, and that's very important. and third and finally, madam president, this bill advances waterborne commerce by dredging our harbors and ports and rivers and getting that work done which is vital, which is necessary if maritime commerce is going to move forward and help drive the engine of our economy. we have major reforms in this bill with regard to the harbor maintenance trust fund, major reforms in the bill with regard to the inland waterway trust fund, dredging what we need to dredge, moving forward on key harbors and ports and waterways, and that's important for our louisiana maritime sector, which is a big part of the national economy. so there are a lot of positives to this bill, madam i and suppod
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that's why i am very, very pleased today that it got overwhelming bipartisan support. with that, madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: thank you, madam president. madam president, yesterday the nonpartisan congressional budget office, the c.b.o., estimated that this year's budget deficit will be 24% lower than it projected just a few months ago, and that is very, very good news for our country. let's not forget that just five or so years ago when president obama came into office in january of 2009, he inherited a $1.4 trillion deficit. $1.4 trillion as a result of two unpaid for wars, huge tax breaks
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for the wealthy and large corporations and unfunded medicare part d prescription drug program written by the drug and prescription insurance companies which resulted in less revenue coming into the federal government, we experienced four straight years of deficits above $1 trillion. this year the c.b.o. projects that the deficit will just be $642 billion. $642 billion is a lot of money. it is a large deficit. we have got to continue working on that issue. but clearly for a variety of reasons, we have made substantial progress and we should be proud of that. by 2015, the c.b.o. is projecting that the federal deficit will total just 2.1% of g.d.p., exactly what those folks
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who were involved with simpson-bowles told us. we needed to achieve in order to be fiscally sustainable over the long term. so, madam president, the good news is that we have made significant progress on deficit reduction. we should be proud of that. however, however, we must be cognizant that we do not place ourselves in a situation in which the operation was a success but the patient died, and the patient that i am talking about, of course, is the disappearing middle class, the backbone of this great country. so, in other words, while a lot of attention has been focused on deficit reduction, which is important, it is high time we started focusing on what is happening to tens of millions of working families, people who are unemployed, people who are
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working at very low-wage jobs, elderly people who can't afford their prescription drugs, families that can't afford to send their kids to college or provide childcare for their young ones. so my main point today is let us start focusing on the issue of most importance for the vast majority of the american people, and that is creating the millions of jobs we desperately need and making sure that people have income that they can afford to live in dignity with. madam president, the sad reality is -- and we need to focus on these issues -- is that poverty is increasing, is that in many ways the great middle class of this country, once the envy of the world, is disappearing, and sadly the gap between the very, very wealthy and everyone else is growing wider and wider.
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we must not have an economy where just the people on top, just the multinational corporations do extremely well while the vast majority of the people are struggling to make ends meet. madam president, since 1999, the average middle-class family has seen its income go down by nearly $5,000 after adjusting for inflation. median family -- median family income today is lower than it was in 1996. so all over this country, people get up in the morning, often husbands and wives work long hours, and they come back and find that they are worse off financially than they were 10, 15 years ago. and when you ask people with direction how the country is doing and why they think the
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country is moving in the wrong direction, that is precisely the reason why. they work -- people are working long, hard hours and they are falling further and further behind. madam president, i understand that when we pick up the newspapers, they tell us that unemployment is 7.5%. that is one way of looking at unemployment, but if you look at it in a more accurate way, including those people who have given up looking for work, people who are working part time when they want to work full time, real unemployment in this nation today is 13.9%, and it is high time that this congress began addressing that issue. in fact, more than 20 million americans today do not have a full-time job when they want to be working full time. and another issue that has not received the attention that it
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deserves youth unemployment. youth unemployment is especially painful because you have young people graduating high school, graduating college, wanting to go out, begin their careers, begin their adult lives, and they can't find a job, or in some cases if they graduate college, they are finding a job which does not require a college degree. the youth unemployment rate for 16-24-year-old workers today is 16.2%. 16.2%. for teenagers, the overall unemployment rate is 25.1%. for african-american teens, the number is 43.1%. believe it or not, madam president, the united states has now surpassed much of europe in the percentage of young adults
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without jobs, according to recent article in "the new york times." so, madam president, we have done well for a variety of reasons in dealing with deficit reduction, but now it is time to turn to those young people throughout this country, kids who are looking forward to getting out on their own, earning a living and help them get the kind of jobs they need to succeed in life and to start their adult life off in a good direction. madam president, each and every year when we talk about young people, we should understand that another real tragedy is taking place in our country, and that is because of the disappearing middle class and the high cost of college education. some 400,000 high school graduates do not go to college,
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not because they are unqualified but because they cannot afford it. and what a tragedy that is to waste all of that intellectual capital. who knows what those kids might do if they were able to get a college degree, but now because of declineing incomes for their families and because of the high cost of education, they are unable to do it. this is an addition we must also focus on. madam president, from 1969-2009, median earnings for male high school graduates plummeted by almost 50% after adjusting for inflation. let me repeat that. from 1969-2009, median earnings for male high school graduates plummeted by almost 50% after adjusting for inflation. men without a high school
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education have fared even worse. their inflation-adjusted median earnings have shrunk by nearly two-thirds over the past four decades. what is that about? well, what that is about is there was a -- one time in this country when people did not have even a high school degree or just a high school degree, they could go out and get a job, and maybe that job was in a factory. maybe it wasn't the greatest job in the world, but if you worked in a factory and especially if you had a union job in that factory, you could make a decent wage. you could make it into the middle class. but sadly, those jobs have to a very significant degree disappeared. we have lost over 50,000 factories in this country in the last ten years. millions of decent-paying jobs. what opportunities are there now available for young people who just graduate high school or may not even graduate high school? at best, at best, they're going
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to work at mcdonald's, they're going to work at wal-mart for inadequate wages, but the truth is that many of those young people are finding it difficult to obtain any kind of job. madam president, there is another issue that we must focus on, and that is distribution of wealth in this country because at the end of the game, the end of the game of economics, we want to know who wins and who loses, and clearly what has been going on in this country in recent years is the people on top are doing phenomenally well while the middle class is shrinking and poverty is at a very, very high rate. madam president, according to a report that came out on april april 23, 2013, a couple of weeks ago from the pew research center, all of the new wealth generated in this country from
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2009-2011 went to the top 7% of american households, while the bottom 93% of americans saw a net reduction in their wealth. all of the new wealth, from 2009-2011 went to the top 7%. mr. president, -- madam president, today the wealthiest 400 individuals in this country own more wealth than the bottom half of america, 150 million people. 400 people here, 150 million people there. that is not what this great country was supposed to be about. today, one family, one family, the walton family, the owners of wal-mart, are worth $100 billion. that is more wealth than the bottom 40% of the american people. one family owns more wealth than
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the bottom 40% of the american people. today the top 1% own 38% of all financial wealth, while the bottom 60% own 2.3%. in case people didn't hear that correctly -- maybe they're scratching their heads, let me say it again. top 1% owns 38% of all financial wealth in this country while the bottom 60% owns 2.3%. and that gap between the billionaires and everybody else is getting wider and wider and wider. and, in fact, as warren buffett has pointed out we are seeing a massive shift, massive shift of wealth from the middle class to the billionaire class. warren buffett pointed out recently that the 400 wealthiest americans are now worth a record breaking $1.7 trillion, more than five times what they were
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worth just two decades ago. meanwhile, according to a june, 2012 study from the federal reserve, medium net worth for middle-class families dropped by nearly 40% from 2007 to 2010. so what we are seeing is a massive shifting of wealth from the middle class, from the working class of this country, to the people on top, and that gap between the very, very wealthy and everybody else is now wider than it has been since the 1920's in this country and wider than any major country on earth. so, madam president, what's my point? my point is that deficit reduction is important. we must continue to focus on it. but we cannot forget about the economic reality facing the men, women, and children of this country, facing senior
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citizens of this country. and it is high time that we began to address some of the major economic problems that we face. now, in terms of job creation, madam president, most economists will tell you that the fastest way to create jobs is to put americans back to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure. in my state of vermont and in states all over this country there is a desperate need to repair and rebuild our roads, bridges, dams, culverts, sewers, schools and affordable housing. if we do this, if we start investing in our infrastructure, making sure that broadband is accessible in every area in this country, cell phone service is available in every area of this country, rebuilding our roads, bridges, rail, we will make this nation
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more productive and at the same time we can put millions of people back to work at all kinds of work. the american society of civil engineers has graded america's roads, public transit, and aviation infrastructure with a d-plus. they say we must invest $1.6 trillion more than we are currently plan to spend on infrastructure over the next seven years just to get a passible condition. when we make that investment, we improve life in america. people do not have to go over potholes, bridges do not have to be closed down, we can develop a first-rate rail system to compete with europe and japan and china and we can create jobs doing that. second point, madam president, in terms of job creation. we can create significant
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numbers of jobs, transforming our energy system away from fossil fuel and into energy efficiency and such sustainable injuries as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass. and when we do that, we begin to start addressing the planetary crisis of global warming, we begin to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions and we create good-paying jobs doing that. thirdly, madam president, we have got to take a hard look at our disastrous trade policy which for many years has been corporate america's policy and a policy of republicans and democrats alike. and despite all of the evidence that unfettered free trade has resulted in the loss of millions of decent-paying jobs in this country, as corporations shut down here, moved to china, vietnam, and other low-wage
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countries, we still have -- democrats and republicans coming forward doing the bidding of corporate america so that these companies can get cheap labor abroad while increasing unemployment in this country. we have got to take a hard, hard look at our trade policies. and i know come every election campaign, two weeks before the election all of the candidates have ads on television bashing china, ads on television talking about trade policy. somehow the day after the election, everybody forgets it. and whether it's a democratic president, whether it's the republican president, whether it's a republican house, whether it's a democratic senate, we still continue moving down the road of this disastrous trade policies. and that means nafta, cafta, permanent normal trade relations with china. we've got to take a hard look and rethink those policies. last point that i want toake,
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madam president, is that while we're making progress on deficit reduction, we have got to be appreciative that some of the people on whom we are balancing the budget you are some of the most vulnerable people in this country. while one out of four major corporations pays nothing in taxes, while corporations are stashing their money in the cayman islands and bermuda and other tax havens, we have made devastating cuts in programs that people can ill afford. just as a result of sequestration, this is what is happening in the real world. at a time when over 20 million americans are unemployed or underemployed, unemployment insurance checks which average about $300 a week -- try living on $300 a week -- are being cut by 10.7%. in other words, those who are out of work through no fault of their own are having their
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unemployment benefits reduced by more than $32 a week on average. now, $32 here is what people spend for lunch. but if you're a working family and you're unemployed, $32 is a question of whether you buy food for the kids or not. we've got to replace that loss. at a time when early childhood education is more important than ever, when we do an abysmal job in terms of childcare and preschool education already, as a result of sequestration 70,000 kids are losing access to head start and early head start programs. that is unacceptable. madam president, i am chairman of the subcommittee which deals with aging, and i can tell you that millions of seniors right now are struggling, figuring out how to -- how to pay their food bills, buy their prescription drugs, keep warm in the wintertime. at a time when food and security
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are skyrocketing as a result of sequestration, tens of thousands of senior citizens have been denied access to the meals on wheels program. meals on wheels is a program that goes to the weakest, most fragile, most vulnerable people in this country, elderly people who cannot get out of their homes. and meals are delivered to them. for these people this is a question of life and death, whether they're going to live with a modicum of dignity or not. those programs have been cut as a result of sequestration. at a time when millions of americans cannot afford the cost of housing, 140,000 low-income families, primarily seniors with disabilities and families with kids, are losing rental assistance because of cuts to the section 202 elderly housing program that section 811, disabled housing program, and a number of other affordable housing programs. madam president, at a time when
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the cost of a college education is becoming increasingly out of reach for working families, 70,000 college students as a result of sequestration are losing federal work study grants. some of them will not be able to stay in college. at a time when 45,000 americans will die this year because they don't have access to health care, sequestration has forced doctors in cancer clinics to deny keep chemotherapy treatmeno nows of patients because -- to cancer patients because of sequestration. lie peep --, liheap, very important to the state of vermont, is being cut by $180 million meaning people will go cold next winter. the presiding officer: the time of the senator has expired. mr. sanders: madam president, let me conclude by saying this: we have made progress on deficit reduction. that's a good thing. now it is time to pay attention
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to the needs of working families all over this country and put people back to work. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from indiana. mr. coats: madam president, could i inquiry how much time i'm -- inquire how much time i'm allowed here in morning business? the presiding officer: there are ten-minute allotments for the senators. mr. coats: i thank you. madam president, thomas jefferson once said -- and i quote -- "the majority oppressing an individual is guilty of a crime, abuses its strength and by acting on the law of the strongest breaks up the foundations of society." the foundation of this society, this great society based on democracy, is the principle of self-determination and the belief that every american is equal under the law, and guaranteed liberty. this principle is ingrained in the character of our nation,
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and it's enshrined in our constitution. of the many things that set us apart from other nations, there is none greater than the first amendment to the constitution. the freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to assemble and to petition our government and the freedom of speech. under the first amendment, americans have the right to organize around the issues and values they believe in and they had the right to disagree with their government. this liberty is part of what energizes our democracy and it's essential if this democracy is to prevail. but that freedom has come under attack recently by our very own government. when the internal revenue service targeted conservative groups, including at least one in my home state of indiana, for extra scrutiny based on their political leanings. the i.r.s. must be nonpartisan.
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it has to be. it's not a partisan watchdog. but then why did the enforcers of our tax code target groups with applications that included the words tea party, patriots, or 9/12 project? why did it simm out applications for groups focusing on government debt or taxes or to educate the public by advocacy to quote make america is better place to live, or those who sought to educate americans about our constitution? you single out a group that is formed to better educate americans about our constitution? what, are you afraid they're going to read the thing? you target a group that wants to make america a better place to live? you're afraid they're going to succeed, by questioning the policies of this administration and perhaps suggesting a different course? this is outrageous.
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this targeting. and, you know, the general -- inspector general issued yesterday, these are very serious allegations and they reveal an effort to misuse government power to unfairly scrutinize those who simply disagree with the policies of this administration. and remember the timing. all this took place during a national election. now, i have met with tea party groups all across the state of indiana and unlike the characterization made by some, these are honest, law-abiding citizens who are deeply concerned about the future of their country. they are deeply concerned about this plunge into deficit spending and debt that may never be able to be repaid and may be dumped in the laps of our children and grandchildren. and they wanted to do something about it and they're deeply concerned about the abuses of their rights guaranteeder
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the don't we read the constitution and better understand the constitution? and they hand out these little books you carry in your pocket. i think that's a good idea. because i think some of the things we're doing raise into question whether or not they're constitutional. but to form a group for the purpose of addressing their concerns about the national debt which is running out of control about a government that is spending like a drunken sailor, about a government that refuses to do what just about every business in america and every family in america has had to do during this time of downturn and recession, that is to tighten their belt and spend more wisely, only the federal government doesn't do this, hasn't done this successfully, and these people are concerned. and so they get targeted by an agency that oversees their taxes and intim dates them or fails to give a rational evaluation of
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their application for tax-exempt status? this targeting is not only inappropriate, it's outrageous and it's disgraceful. it's a despicable abuse of power and a direct assault on our constitution. and it's exactly that type of thing that americans -- make americans further distrustful of their government. earlier this year, the peu pew research center released a poll revealing that 73% of americans distrust their government. in other words, only three out of every ten americans have faith in the federal government. this trust deficit is something we should not ignore. it's an alarming indication of how the american people view their government, one that continues to overreach. and for those of us who are trying to assure our constituents that we're doing
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everything we can to keep this government from overreaching, that we need to restore this trust, we now are hit with something like this. the i.r.s. is given the responsibility of carrying out the law. it should never use its powers for partisan purposes. ever. violating that standard destroys the integrity of our government and further loses the trust of the american people. neither those of us who make the law nor those of us who enforce the law can be above the law, but the i.r.s. believed it was above the law when it targeting conservative groups for scruti scrutiny. and make no mistake, it is the i.r.s. that will be under scrutiny because of their own abuse, and so will every other agency of government, because d're beginning to disturbing pattern of politically motivated abuse.
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sometimes i think we're beginning to hear the echoes of watergate whispering through this town and through the residence at 1600 pennsylvania avenue. but the i.r.s. didn't target progressive or liberal groups so i have a hard time believing that during their apology they simply said this was a misguided effort by low-level bureaucrats attempting to organize applications for tax-exempt status. where have we heard that before? oh, benghazi. yeah, this -- this -- this wasn't something that really -- this was some low-level bureaucrats that made a wrong decision. where does the buck stop in this town? it doesn't stop at the president's desk. didn't stop at the secretary of state's desk. it seems to be pushed down to -- quote -- "the low-level bureaucrats" that, well, we should have supervised better but, you know, these people we want off and do their own thing. so this is not a big deal, let's
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just dismiss it, push it off to the sigh. yeah, we lost an ambassador, that was a tragic situation. three others who were there trying to protect him. but, you know, what's the big deal? it's over with. a mistake. let's move on. just like this pathetically weak statement from our president, when he says if it turns out to be the case then of course we will need to do something about it. well, this was after the inspector general of the i.r.s. said, hey, this is for real, this is after the director of the program said, yes, it was a mistake. so it's not conditional. it's real. it's there. it has to be addressed. an apology from the i.r.s. is necessary -- while it's necessary, it's not enough to just simply say it's an inappropriate act. the targeting of these groups, which was confirmed by, as i said, the inspector general, are
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very serious allegations and reveal an effort to misuse government power to unfairly scrutinize those who disagree with the administration. the i.r.s. actions to target groups based on political viewpoints is outrageous and disgraceful. it's an abuse of power and a direct assault on our constitution. madam president, there must be accountability and responsibility from top leadership and that includes the white house. the american people deserve answers. how could this clearly unconstitutional action have occurred? who was involved and who else was aware of this deliberate targeting? what steps will be taken to ensure this doesn't happen again? today i have joined all of my senate republican colleagues in sending the president a letter demanding that the administration comply fully with all congressional inquiries on this matter. no more avoiding, no more
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delaying, no more stonewalling, no more inappropriate responses -- it's time the administration starts answering some questions for the american people. this scandal has left a stain on the i.r.s. that i believe cannot be repaired under current leadership. the head of the i.r.s. as well as every supervisor involved should be removed from their posts. we will not tolerate the intimidation and silencing of americans simply for exercising their first american rights. let me conclude by repeating thomas jefferson's warning. we must not allow this abuse of fundamental constitutional rights to break up the very foundations of society. madam president, i yield the floor.
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mr. barrasso: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. as i come to the floor today, americans all across the country are paying attention to the multiple scanldz scanldzs plagug the -- scandals plaguing the administration. we're seeing it in all areas of the country. my hometown newspaper, "caspar star tribune," had a headline today, "trio of troubles related to the obama administration." because what the american people are seeing from the obama administration, people are seeing a high level of incompetence and a very low level of transparency. so here are just a few of the headlines today in "the washington post." "criminal probe of i.r.s. launched." criminal probe of i.r.s. launched. just below that, "leak probe, phone records uproar ends
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holder's respite." that has to do with the justice department's secret gathering of records from the associated press. inside the paper, open it up, there's -- there's much more. "media outlets condemn agency." justice department department, i.r.s. scandals. other articles note the ongoing scandal over the administration's handling of the attack on our consulate in benghazi. "the washington post" fact checker recently gave the president four pinocchios for his attempt to mislead the public on the issue. the only reason they didn't give him five pinocchios is you can't get five. four is the highest rating you can get for misleading and inaccurate information. well, we need more details, madam president, about the benghazi coverup, the i.r.s. targeting of conservatives, and the justice department's decision to monitor members of the media. today, madam president, though, i want to talk about another important story that raises serious questions about this
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administration's actions. and, of course, i'm referring to the abuse of power that i call the is he bai sebelius shakedow. this was first reported by "the washington post" on its front page last weekend. here's the headline -- "h.h.s. asking firms for money for obamacare." the article goes on to say, "health and human services secretary kathleen sebelius has gone hat in hand" -- hat in hand -- "to health industry officials asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement president obama's landmark health care law." that's the quote from the article. the article goes on. it says, "over the past three months, sebelius has made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, to community organizations, and to church groups and has asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are
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working to enroll uninsured americans and increase awareness of the law." madam president, these are very serious allegations against the secretary of health and human services. the president's health care law is a disaster that threatens americans' jobs, it threatens americans' paychecks and it threatens americans' care. instead of facing the reality, though, secretary sebelius has called on the exact same companies that she regulates -- the companies that she regulates -- and she's called on them to make financial donations to organizations that are trying to make this awful law look better than it is. well, the sebelius shakedown is outrageous. she is the secretary of health and human services for the country. she holds tremendous power and influence over these companies that she regulates. her words and her requests matter. one industry official with direct knowledge of the
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secretary's funding request was quoted in "the washington post" saying that there was a clear insinuation by the administration that insurers should give financially to this effort. madam president, it's kind of like your boss coming in and standing by your desk and then asking you how many girl scout -- how many boxes of girl scout cookies that you plan to buy from the boss's daughter that year. this kind of conflict of interest should be not just disturbing, it would be disturbing even if this were just a minor -- a minor agency with limited power. but health and human services is not a minor agency. it is one of the most powerful and influential bureaucracies in all of washington. president obama's health care law gave secretary sebelius unprecedented power to regulate a very large portion of the united states economy. she controls a budget of nearly a trillion dollars and oversees
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health care industries ranging from insurance companies to hospitals. on top of that, health and human services is currently negotiating with health plans to set premium rates. it's also setting up the government-run health care exchanges and confirming which companies will get to participate in those. well, that raises the stakes dramatically for these companies and it puts a tremendous amount of pressure on them to keep the secretary happy. private companies and other organizations should never be put in a position where they could fear for their future based upon their response to inappropriate requests from a member of the president's cabinet. the american people should never have to wonder if their government is shaking down the very businesses that they regulate. at best, asking health care industry executives to donate money for the administration's health care law enrollment efforts is a blatant conflict of
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interest. at worst, the secretary may have violated the law by increasing federal spending without congressional authorization. as congress begins investing secretary sebelius' actions, the american people deserve answers to a number of important questions. for starters, the american people would like to know who exactly the secretary called, what did she ask, what specific legal authority permits the secretary or any other h.h.s. employee to solicit financial donations to implement the health care law? which h.h.s. officials participated in the decision to ask for these donations? did anyone else at h.h.s. ask for donations from outside groups and businesses? did any other obama administration officials make similar solicitations? what specific steps has health and human services taken to ensure the obama administration will not favor businesses and organizations that gave money or
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punish those that did not donate? you know, madam president, prior to the latest efforts by secretary sebelius to shake down the health industry, well, she has a history of questionable decisions. back in september of 2010, health insurance companies started informing customers, their customers how much the president's health care law would increase the premiums of these individuals. so the secretary responded by warning insurers that the administration would be keeping track of their actions and that some companies might be -- quote -- "excluded from health insurance exchanges in 2014." that was not an idle threat. medicare's chief actuary had predicted that in the future, essentially all americans would buy health insurance through the government exchange. well, the president -- the secretary seemed to be threatening that any insurers telling customers the reason
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behind premium increases, which, of course, would be the president's health care law, that those companies thealg to their customers could be put out of -- telling that to their customers could be put out of business. most recently last fall, the united states office of special counsel concluded that secretary sebelius violated the hatch act. she did this when campaigning for president obama while traveling on official government business. now, federal workers who violate the hatch act, they're often fired, but secretary sebelius was not punished at all. there are already enough concerns about how the president's health care law will harm the american people. we cannot afford unresolved questions about whether a cabinet secretary pressured businesses that she regulates to make donations. a lot of media attention on these scandals has focused on the political fallout, but politics isn't the real issue. the real issue is that the american people need to know
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that their government is not a thug. the real interest of the american people is in knowing that they have confidence that their government will act in the people's best interests, not just in president obama's best interests. the american people need confidence that the administration isn't favoring or punishing the people that it regulates based upon their support for the administration's pet causes. when it comes to these disturbing allegations about secretary sebelius and all of the other recent scandals, the american people deserve to know what happened. yesterday, secretary sebelius had an opportunity to answer questions. she did not. today again, secretary sebelius had an opportunity to ask -- to answer questions, again according to press reports she
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refused to do s the american people want answers. members of the congress want answers. there are many more questions to be asked. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from illinois. mr. durbin: i ask consent to speak in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, i have three separate statements that i ask be placed at strat parts of the congressional record. -- at separate parts of the congressional record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: madam president, once in a while, you're lucky enough to meet someone who is down to earth but uncompromising in their idealism. i met someone just like that in the year 2007 and i hired her for my staff. it was a great decision. for the better part of six years, sara neimeyer has been a senior member of my staff. this week she left my office for aew adventure s started today, working with the new secretary at the department
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of the interior. i'm sorry to lose her but i wish her well. sara comes by her idealism honestly. she grew up in a family of progressives in rural minnesota. her dad practiced law. her mom raised honey bees and grew vegetables for the family. from her parents, sara inherited progressive ideals, practical midwestern values and a deep love of this land. during college, she spent her summers leading canoe trips through the boundary waters wilderness in northern minnesota and ontario, canada. her first boss in the senate was a dear friend and one of my personal heroes, paul wellstone. sara worked for paul for ten years. after he passed away, she left capitol hill and worked as an advocate for land conservation and wilderness preservation. illinois has benefited from sara's passion, her practicality, her incredibly hard work. lake michigan is one of illinois and america's most beloved treasures. as a member of my staff, sara has fought many battles to
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protect the lake from the threats from toxic dumping and the invasive asian carp. she has worked alongside energy companies in illinois that are cleaning up the way energy is produced. whenever safe water, clean air and healthy lands were at stake, you could be sure sara neimeyer was close by. she is committed, she is tenacious, and she is most always successful. there is one cause which is even dearer to sara than the environment and public service. that's her family. her husband joe warren and their great teenaged sons will and harry. as accomplished as sara is in her professional life, if you ask her what she is proudest of o'she will tell you right away it's her boys. paul wellstone had a great definition for politics. he used to say in the last analysis, politics is not predictions and politics is not observations. politics is what we do. politics is what we do. politics is what we create. by what we work for, by what we hope for and what we dare to
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imagine. paul wellstone was right. that's politics at its finest. that's the kind of public service sara neimeyer has performed for me, my staff and la nearly six years, and i am deeply grateful for all of her effort. i want to thank joe, will and harry, first of all, for sharing sara with me, and i want to thank sara for helping to protect and preserve some of my state and our nation's greatest natural treasures. i wish sara continued joy and success as she gets back on the green bus to begin her next professional challenge. madam president, i ask this statement be placed separate in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i rise to talk about the continuing toll of gun violence on america and my home state of illinois. for several months now, "the new york times" columnist joan a sarah has published the gun report. it's a daily compilation about
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shootings across america. this is startling. it is one thing when you hear the dry numbers about 87 americans killed, 200 wounded every day by gun violence. but jonah sara's report goes beyond the numbers. it shares some of the details about the news reports of these shootings. for example, his report for monday describes shootings that took place over this last weekend. the tally of shootings in america goes on to fill 19 partial. let me read just some of the descriptions of the shootings that took place over this last weekend right here in our beloved country. a 12-year-old boy was accidentally shot in the face by his 11-year-old friend friday morning in camden, new jersey. two minneapolis, minnesota, police officers were shot and wounded at a traffic stop in uptown friday afternoon. avery williams, 22, and jamario
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troutman, 24, died and a third man in serious condition after a friday afternoon shooting in west palm beach, florida. tamara logan, age 44, a teacher's aide, was shot multiple times in the head outside mckinley elementary school in east eerie, pennsylvania, friday morning. 46-year-old bruce byrd shot and killed his wife, 44-year-old steffi byrd, then turned the gun on himself in lawrenceville, pennsylvania, again on friday. these are just a few of the reported shootings on friday. there are dozens more of these stories from saturday and sunday, including a fatal road rage shooting in arkansas, a convicted felon who shot and killed his son in missouri, four people found shot to death in their home in wanesville, north carolina, and at least 19 people shot during a mother's day parade in new orleans. sadly, there were multiple shootings in my home state of
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illinois. in mr. nesara's report, they included a saturday night shooting in rockford and at least nine people shot over the weekend in chicago, three of them fatally. it's hard to read mr. nesara's report and not feel that something is terribly wrong with this level of gun violence. have we heard it so often that we reach the point it has no impact? i think most americans will look at this report and agree that we should take steps to reduce this massive toll of gun violence. several weeks ago, on april 17, on this floor of the senate, we fell short of the 60 votes needed to break a republican filibuster. it was a filibuster against commonsense gun rorps and gun safety. we didn't get 60 votes for commonsense steps like closing gaps in the gun background check system and cracking down on straw purchasers who supply criminals and gangs with guns.
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joe manchin is a congressman from west virginia. he's a democrat. he may be one of the most conservative democrats on the floor of the senate. patrick toomey is a republican from pennsylvania, arguably the most conservative republican on the floor of the united states senate. joe manchin and patrick toomey, a democrat and a republican, sat down and said can we write some way to reduce gun violence in america in a bipartisan way, two conservatives, two gun owners, and they did. they came up with a proposal that would call for universal background checks. you know today, 40% of the guns sold in america are sold to people not subject to a background check. how important is that? well, what if you got on an airplane and before it took off the flight attendant says welcome to this flight. we wanted to let you know that 60% of you have gone through t.s.a. screening to see if you're carrying a weapon or a
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bomb, 40% we didn't check. would you get on the airplane? would you want your family on that airplane? that's the situation in america today when it comes to the sale of firearms. so joe manchin and patrick toomey said let's close the problems that we have, the gaps in the law and make sure that everyone, virtually everyone is subject to a background check, particularly those that buy guns and newspapers or over the internet. let's make sure as well that those who go to gun shows to buy guns, we at least check their backgrounds. well, why do we want to check? because the law says you have a right under the second amendment to legally own and responsibly use a firearm in america. i understand that. i accept it. and i'll fight to protect it. but the law also says if you're a convicted felon or someone so mentally unstable you shouldn't own a firearm, you can't buy
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one, not legally in this country. there are a lot of sportsmen and hunters in my home state of illinois. i know many of them. they're in my family. i have met them, i have talked to them. they get it. they want their second amendment rights protected, but they don't want to believe for a minute that a firearm is going to be sold to someone who is going to use it in a crime or someone who is so mentally unstable that they can't handle it. that's what the manchin-toomey amendment was all about. we needed 60 votes. we got 55. we lost four votes on this side of the aisle, the democratic side. we picked up four votes on the other side of the aisle. and let me commend my colleague, my republican colleague mark kirk who joined me in voting for this measure, truly a bipartisan effort from most senators who voted for it, but we fell five votes short of breaking the republican filibuster. the issue of gun violence isn't going to go away. we're losing more americans every day to this gun violence.
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just this morning, the "chicago tribune" reported two people were killed and 11 wounded in shootings last night in chicago. chicago is a wonderful city. it's a great city. proud to represent it and proud to spend much of my time there, but i'm saddened by the gun violence that takes place there and in all the cities, major cities across america. since 26 school children and six teachers were killed in newtown, connecticut, on december 14, america has been fixed on gun violence. just the images of those beautiful little boys and girls from their first grade class killed in their school by a man firing away repeatedly with a weapon, it's just heart breaking. i met some of those parents. they have come by my office. they have showed me the pictures of their kids, and there wasn't a dry eye in the room. wonderful little boys and girls
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gone. and we have got to ask the question can we do anything about it? should we do anything about it? will we do anything about it? because the sad reality is since that day, that horrible day in newtown, connecticut, when that massacre occurred, more than 4,000 americans have been killed by guns. think about that. more than 4,000 americans have been killed by guns. if you read mr. nesara's report in "the new york times," can you see the devastating loss our nation suffers every single day. sadly, america leads the world when it comes to gun violence and gun death. it doesn't have to be that way. this past weekend, the "chicago tribune" published an article looking at the problem of straw purchasing. that's one of the main ways that convicted felons and gang members get their guns in chicago. the article said that many straw purchasers see the opportunity as easy money and a victimless
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paperwork crime. in fact, straw purchases lead to crime and killings. they are the primary factor behind gun violence in the city of chicago. what is a straw purchase? that's when a person who can legally purchase a gun buys one to either give it or sell it to a person who is going to use it in the commission of a crime. it happens a lot. almost 10% of all the firearms confiscated in the commission of crime in chicago over the last ten years, almost 10% of those guns came from the state of mississippi. mississippi. why? because you show a driver's license in mississippi and you can buy a gun. in fact, you can buy a trunkful of guns. you can head out on the interstate, headed for some alleyway or some crack house in or near chicago, make your sale that night and come away with a lot of money. that's what straw purchasing is all about. one of the provisions in the law
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which i cosponsored, a bipartisan provision, senator patrick leahy, democrat of vermont, senator susan collins, republican of maine and myself, as well as my colleague, senator mark kirk, republican colleague, we made this a bipartisan effort to say if you're going to buy a gun, give it or sell it to someone who is going to commit a crime, you're going to commit a federal crime yourself when you do it, with up to 15 years in prison. real hard time for a real crime. it was defeated. the national rifle association opposed us. why? why? to sell more guns? this doesn't help a sportsman or a hunter for someone to buy a gun so someone else can commit a crime with it. yet they defeated it. that's the reality of what we're up against here but it's a reality that can change. senator kirk named that provision of the bill after a recent gun victim in chicago,
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15-year-old hidea pendleton. a beautiful little girl who came out for the time of her life to be at president obama's inauguration in january. went back to chicago and a couple weects later was gunned down standing at a bus stop outside of her school. i can't believe that people voted against that measure to stop the straw purchasing, to make these people accountable who buy these guns and put them into the flow of deadly crime across america. well, people are speaking out now in a way they never have before. mothers, doctors, mayors, law enforcement, family members of victims aren't going to sit down and be quiet. they're going to speak up. this coalition has been turning up the heat on members of congress and i know it's received a lot of publicity, but in a democracy, elections count. we've got to make sure that people are elected who want to have gun safety in this nation. we need real reform when it comes to gun violence and gun
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safety. we can't just walk away from the daily toll of shootings across america. instead, we need five more votes on the floor of the senate, five more votes. people say, well, the house of representatives will never consider this measure. well, maybe they won't. and maybe the people who believe this is important for the future of their families and our country will remember that in the next election. that is what democracy is all about. some senators have claimed that they voted for an alternative, so-called grassley alternative and therefore they're really for gun safety. make no mistake, that grassley amendment would have actually removed -- removed -- tens of thousands of mental illness records from background check databases and made it 23450er8 impossible to convict straw purchasers. only the gun lobby could tall call that an improvement to the current system. there's no plaimg, no bill or law that could end every act of violence but we are duty bound, we are morally bound to do
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everything in our power to keep america safe. when we think of the tragedy at newtown, when we think of the tragedy affecting 4,000 gun victims since newtown, we have no choice but to move forward as a nation in a sensible way protecting second-amendment rights but keeping guns out of the hands of convicted felons and mentally unstable people. i want to close by extending my sympathies to the victims and family members in illinois and across the nation who have suffered from gun violence. it is time for congress to act and act quickly. madam president, the last statement i would make here i ask be placed at a separate point in the record as well. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: about an hour ago i was on the telephone with secretary of defense chuck hagel. it was a somber conversation. we were talking about the recent disclosure, the most recent disclosure yesterday of sexual assault in the military. the secretary said he was beside
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himself. with the knowledge that this continues. and he was going to do something about it and i trust that he will. last night we learned of the latest most reprehensible incident. the army is investigating a sexual assault prevention and response coordinator at fort hood, texas, for being engaged in sexual abuse and other alleged crimes. secretary hagel has called for retraining of all coordinators and recruiters. i know he's upset about that. i join him in that response. he understands this is a pervasive crisis that threatens the moral underpinnings of our military. at risk are core values of trust, discipline and respect that every one of our service members expect and deserve to protect each other and ultimately to protect america. next wednesday, the army will appear before my defense appropriations subcommittee. we'll be asking some hard
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questions. what has gone wrong here? why are so many men and women charged with stopping sexual assault being found guilty of it themselves? this is a serious issue. according to the pentagon survey, there were 26,000 sexual assaults in the u.s. military last year, 26,000. that's a 35% increase over 2010. that's more than 70 service women and men sexually assaulted every single day in our military. unacceptable. we also know that only a fraction of those incidents are reported. fewer than 3,400 incidents a year in fact and nearly 800 of those instances the victim seeks help but declines to file a formal complaint. i commend every one of those men and women who have the courage to come forward and name their accused. it's an unimaginably tough thing to do but it's the right thing
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for them and it's the right thing for our military. nevertheless, we have very far to go before we can say with confidence the system is working to prevent these incidents, protect the victims, and prosecute the perpetrators. last month, a u.s. commanding general based in italy overturned a military jury's conviction of an officer charged with aggravated sexual assault, overturned it. that sent a chill through the ranks increasing fear among victims when they had the courage to step forward, ultimately nothing would happen. i appreciate secretary hagel immediately called for a change in the uniform code of military justice. i know senator carl levin, senator jim inhofe on the armed services committee is working to act swiftly on those recommended reforms. they have my full support. let me also commend to of my colleagues who have stepped on this issue. kirsten gillibrand of new york, has shown real leadership.
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senator patty murray, chairman of the budget committee, kelly ayotte. they came together to introduce a bill that i support, s. 871, the combating military sexual assault act. i also want to commend senator claire mccaskill. the bill would provide a special victims' counsel to assist them through the process, strengthen the military prosecution system and assure the guard and reserve have response coordinators available at all times regardless of duty status. we have to ensure each service has a robust investigative team with real expertise when it comes to sexual assault. these are just some of the many reforms the pentagon must work on with congress to make a difference. i'm committed to working with secretary hagel and the entire pentagon leadership tony sure every service member can serve free from incidents of violence and the trauma like that reported this week.
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i urge all my colleagues to support these reforms for our service members. madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from rhode island. mr. reed mr. whitehouse: may i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business for up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. whitehouse: let me thank the distinguished senator from illinois for his statement. we serve together on the judiciary committee, and i hope that in that committee as well we can work on ways to improve the prosecution of particularly rape offenses within the military by the department of justice. and break through the agreement that now prevents the department of justice from prosecuting those crimes for the crimes that they are simply because they take place in the military. i'm here to speak today because washington, d.c. and the right-wing outrage machine are all abuzz about the scandal that
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the i.r.s. appears to have targeted organizations for inquiry based on tea party affiliation. obviously, that's wrong. but let's not forget, that's not the only i.r.s. scandal. that is not the only scandal in town. there are two i.r.s. scandals. the other is the i.r.s. allowing big shadowy forces to meddle in elections anonymously through front groups that file false statements with the i.r.s. let's go through this. begin with the principle that it's pretty clear that americans have a strong interest, a strong democratic interest in knowing who is trying to influence their vote in
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elections. that's kind of democracy 101. even the supreme court which can hardly agree 8-1 on what time it is, agreed 8-1 that knowing who is trying to influence your vote is really important. here's what they said. they said that effective disclosure would -- quote -- "provide shareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable for their positions and supporters." very much part of the democratic process. but some folks don't want you to know who they are when they meddle in our politics. big companies taking positions that would annoy their shareholders or their customers. secretive billionaires who want influence without
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accountability, who want to pull the strings behind the scenes. polluters, wall street, big oil, and other folks that the public is fed up with, they all have lots of reasons for wanting to stay secret. but the law in america requires lots of disclosure. and the supreme court has emphasized the importance of lots of disclosure. so what's a company or a billionaire trying to hide their influence seeking going to do? how does the secret money get in? well, easy. you create a front organization organization, usually with a phony-baloney happy name, and you hide behind that. except it's not quite that easy. there aren't that many kinds of
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organizations that can hide their donors that way. the most commonly used is called a 501-c-4 which is a tax-exempt nonprofit form of corporation which is regulated by -- guess who -- the i.r.s. there is one big problem for people wanting that secret influence in politics and that is that that kind of organization, the 501-c-4 needs to be set up -- this is the law -- quote -- "for the promotion of social welfare." indeed, the law says exclusively, exclusively for the promotion of social welfare. and according to the i.r.s.'s own regulations, quoting again, "the promotion of social welfare does not include direct or indirect participation or
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intervention in political campaigns, on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate for public office." so that's a problem. well, the first kind of miniscandal is that the i.r.s. has decided that an organization is organized exclusively for the promotion of social welfare if it is primarily engaged in social welfare activities, and that primarily means 51%, so the other 49% can be purely political. so does not include direct or indirect participation in political activities has been turned into actually does include but up to 49% which is nonsensicle and as i said, a miniscandal of its own. but let's go on. the i.r.s. allowing a bunch of
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political operatives to form nonprofit groups that don't disclose its donors and then collect millions of dollars and spend them on elections in contravention of a clear statute and seemingly in violation of their own rules, also requires that they usually make some false statements. that's where the scandal really worsens. there is a form called the 1024 form that is the application form for 501-c-4 status. if you go to that form, you'll see question 15. question 15 asks this: "has the organization spent or does it plan to spend any money attempting to influence the selection, nomination, election, or appointment of any
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person to any federal, state, or local public office, or to an office in a political organization." that's the question on the form. it has to be answered under oath. a considerable number of groups appear to have lied on their applications for nonprofit status and on their returns and they have lied with absolutely no consequences. there is a pulitzer prize winning nonpartisan investigative group called propublica. propublica has invested these 501-c-4 filings. as part of their investigation, they looked at 104 different organizations that had reported to the federal election commission or to the state equivalent federal elective bodies, 104 organizations that
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reported electeering activity, that they were involved in trying to elect candidates. and in those filings to the federal and state election boards, they said, here is what we spent on influencing those elections. well, propublica cross-checked those 104 who had filed statements saying how much they spent to influence elections and 32 of them, 32 of them had told the i.r.s. that they spent no money to influence elections either directly or indirectly. both statements cannot be true. you cannot tell one federal agency how much you spent to influence elections and tell another federal agency that you spent no money to influence elections and have both statements be true. and then you look at these
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organizations' behavior and the false statements look even wor worse. one organization said that it would spend 50% of its effort on a web site and 30% on conferences. the investigation showed its web site consisted of one photograph and one paragraph. no sign of any conference. the same group declared that it would take contributions -- quote -- "from individuals only" and then took $2 million from pharma, the pharmaceutical lobby. another declared to the i.r.s. that it had spent $5 million on political activities but it told the federal election commission it had spent $19 million on political advertisements. another pledged that its political spending would be -- and i quote -- "limited in amount and will not constitute
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the organization's primary purpose." and then that organization went out and spent $70 -- 7-0 -- $70 million on ads and robo calls in one election season. it's almost funny, it's so bad. but there's nothing funny about making a material false statement to a federal agency. that's not just bad behavior, it is a crime. it is a statutory offense under 18 united states code section 1001. the department of justice indicts and prosecutes violations of this statute all the time but they never do for this. never. why? it appears that there is a bad agreement between the department of justice and the internal revenue service at the department of justice -- that
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the department of justice won't prosecute false statements if they're made on this form unless the case has been referred to them by the i.r.s. so that's really scandal two right there. no matter how flagrant the false statement, no matter how great the discrepancy between the statements filed at the i.r.s. under oath and the statements also filed at the federal and state election agencies, no matter how baldly -- boldly the agency in practice on how it engages in political tivity, th, the department never makes a referral to the department of justice. 32 flagrantly false statements and as far as anyone knows, not
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one referral to the department of justice as a false statement. it is a mockery of the law and it is a mockery of the truth. there's an easy solution. the department of justice prosecutes these false statements in lots of other instances. prosecute these. juries good at sorting out what's a lie and what's not. investigations, interviews, statements and subpoenas can look behind what appears to be a false statement and prosecutors can get a full sense of a case in a grand jury before any charges are finalized. but they can't if they don't even look. right now organizations, multiple organizations lie with impunity in large numbers, and it is, indeed, a scandal
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that the i.r.s. won't even make a referral. frankly, it's no great credit to the department of justice that the department won't act on its own with all of this so public and so plain. hiding behind their agreement with the i.r.s. on these facts is not that great department's finest hour. so it is very wrong, it is very wrong that the i.r.s. required additional information from a number of organizations, mostly small organizations, based on a screen that incorporates those organizations' tea party orientation. it is very wrong. but it is also very wrong that the i.r.s. goes awol when wealthy and powerful forces want to break the law in order to hide their wrongful efforts at
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secret political influence. picking on the little guy is a pretty lousy thing to do. rolling over for the powerful and letting them file false statements is pretty lousy too. two scandals. let's not let one drowned out the other. i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. rubio: are we in morning business? the presiding officer: we are. mr. rubio: i don't anticipate using it all but i would ask unanimous consent that i be recognized to speak for up to 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rubio: thank you, madam president. and i wanted to come to the floor here today to address the news of the last four days which i think have shocked the american people. in a series of revelations made across news agencies about the role our federal government has played in the way it's used its power to intimidate those who
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they believe are not doing what they want them to do. so, for example, we learned last week in testimony in the house of representatives that there were employees of the state department who disagreed with the direction that -- the way the government was handling the benghazi situation and the word that was being put out with the state department of the they disagreed with it, they didn't like it and they testified last week that they were made to feel threatened. the message was sent to them very clearly from the highest levels of the state department that they should not be talking or saying the things that they were saying. that concerned a lot of people. unfortunately, on friday of last week in what i think was an attempt to bury a story, which there's no way they were going to bury this one, and so they put it out on friday, the -- which is notoriously known as the slowest news day of the week because it goes into the weekend and people forget it and they move on. but this one was not easy to forget. on friday we learned that the internal revenue service had specifically targeted organizations in this country because of their political
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leanings and affiliation. now, understand, this is not something new. people have been complaining about this for a couple of years. anecdotally, from organizations across the country coming to us and saying, we got this weird request from the i.r.s. asking us for all sorts of things. you start to hear that everywhere and, you know, we still i think to some level have confidence and hope -- have the best hopes for the federal government and the people in work within it. and, but as you start hearing that more and more, people became concerned. so members of this body wrote letters and inquired of the i.r.s., hey, is this going on, are groups being targeted because they're a tea party or because they're a 912 group? of course the answer they gave was, no, that's just not true, that's absolutely false. well, you know what? it wasn't false. then the i.r.s. said, but it was just this group of employees in cincinnati. as it turns out, that's not true either. it was widespread. it was an effort throughout the i.r.s. to specifically target groups because they were called tea party or liberty groups o
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or -- or groups that were organized to defend the scope of government, groups that were critical of decisions being made by the government. this is chilling. this was discovered last friday and it's only gotten worse. every day that goes on, we get more and more information in that regard. and then the revelation on monday that the justice department of the united state states -- think about that -- the chief law enforcement agency of the country had issued this blanket search of the phone records of the -- i think the nation's largest reporting group, the associated press. now, understand, if they were going after a leak that endangered america and security, that's one thing. we can have a debate about that. but they went much further than that. it was a blanket request of all these phone calls, including the switchboard. pretty outrageous. so in the span of four days, three major revelations about the use of government power to intidate those who are doing things that the government doesn't like.
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these are the tactics of the third world. these are the tactics of places that don't have the freedoms and the independence that we have here in this country. and it is shocking to americans that this would come to light in the way that it has. i would submit to you, however, that none of this is new. that what we see emerging here is a pattern, a culture -- a culture of intimidation, of hardball politics that we saw both on the campaign trail and now through the apparatus of government. i don't have enough time in 10 or 15 minutes in morning business to cite them all but i will cite a few that have already been discussed. let me tell you about the case of a gentleman named frank vanderslo to have. he was a couple of things. he was the national cochair of mitt romney's campaign. he was also a major donor of a superpac that was supportive of governor romney's campaign. in april 2012, president obama's reelection campaign posted on a web a list of eight -- quote --
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"wealthy individuals" with less than reputable records who were contributing to mitt romney. it was a series called "behind the curtain: a brief history of romney donors." it described mr. vandersloot as la tij i, combative and a bitter foe for the gay rates movement. well, curiously enough, within a few weeks, he was the subject of not just one but two i.r.s. audits. one for his personal life, one for his business. coincidence? maybe we should find out through an investigation. then we get word of something else. this is even more -- well, just equally outrageous. and that's the case of this organization called propublica, which was mentioned here a moment ago in relation to another discussion that was had. now, i want to get the facts exactly right about this. but basically, as it turns out, the i.r.s., someone in the i.r.s. released nine pending confidential applications of conservative groups to the
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so-called investigative reporting agency, this so-called not-for-profit, impartial -- we can have that debate later but i don't want to be guilty of doing to the donors to that group of what the obama campaign did to the donors of mr. romney -- but let me just say that in respon response, they sent out information that was confidential, that was not public illegally. they leaked from the i.r.s. information on nine of these groups. that was then record on by this organization -- reported on by this organization, which admitted it came from the i.r.s. coincidence? it doesn't end there, by the way. this is not just limited to the i.r.s. this is a culture of intimidation, a willingness to play hardball politics against your political opponents. let's not forget the case in south carolina of boeing, who decided to relocate, as any business has a right to do, in the united states of america, a business should have the right to locate its operations in any state it wants.
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well, when boeing decided to relocate from washington state to south carolina, the nlrb came after them in a complaint, which they claimed was on the merits but it was very straightforward. they were going after them because the union in washington state was upset about the move. and, in fact, the case was dropped partially because of political pressure, but interestingly enough, the effort was only abandoned after -- after -- they negotiated a contract deal with the union. now, listen, i can be up here all day and i intend to keep come back to the floor and citing examples of this. but the point is, we have going on now is a culture of hardball politics and intimidation which is unacceptable and should be chilling to every member of this body, republican and democrat. this is unacceptable behavior. but this is what you get with an administration -- when an administration is all about politics. this is -- this administration is a 365-day-a-year, year-round political campaign. every issue is a political campaign leading up to the
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election and even now, every issue is a wedge. few times in the history o of ts country has anyone used this office to drive more wedges among the american people than this president and this administration. and so yes, this is the culture that has been created. they're bad and we're good. our enemies are bad people. the people who disagree with us on policy are bad people. you don't support us on guns, you don't care about children and families. you don't support some measure against religious liberty, you're waging a war on women. on issue after issue, a deliberate attempt to divide the american people against each other for the purposes of winning an election. that is the culture that's been created, and that culture leads to this kind of behavior, whether it was directed or not, we don't know that. i'm not saying someone picked up the phone in the white house and said do these audits, leak this information. i am saying that when you create a culture where what's rewarded is political advantage, when you create a culture in your
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administration where everything is politics 24 hours, seven days a week, when you create a culture where every issue that comes before the congress is used to divide people against each other, to see who can get to 51% in the next election, when you create a culture like that, it leads to this kind of behavior throughout your administration. and in the days to come, we're going to be hearing more about this. we have a nominee right now to the labor department who has an admirable personal story which i admire and applaud but who has a history of using the government and his position in government to intimidate people to do what he wants them to do. i would submit to you that mr. perez' nomination is bad for the country at any time, but in this administration, in this political culture after what we have learned in the last few days, even more so. and i hate to single him out but that is one of the pending ones that are before us. the point is, my friends, this is what we are dealing with and a cautionary tale about expanding the scope ofower and i.r.s. that was willing to do this, this same i.r.s. that was
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willing to target groups because of their political leanings, this same i.r.s. that audited mr. van der sloot after he happened to appear on the obama enemy list, this same i.r.s. will now have unfettered power to come after every american and ensure that if either you're buying insurance or you're paying them a tax. every american business, the front lines of enforcing obamacare falls to the i.r.s. that is what happens when you expand the scope and power of government. it's always sold as a noble concept. it's always offered up as government, we're going to give the government more power so they can do good things for us, but the history of mankind proves that every time a government gets too much power, it almost always ends up using it in destructive ways against the personal liberties of individuals, and that's why the framers of our constitution were so wise to impose real constitutional limits on the power of our government, because they knew from history that this was the case.
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that's why our constitution says that unless government at the federal level is specifically given a power, it doesn't have it. that's why it says that. that's why you see people stand up here on the floor and fight to protect the constitution. that's why these groups were formed around the country. everyday americans from all walks of life, people, some of whom had never been involved in politics before, who joined a tea party movement or a 912 movement because they feared the direction our country was going, and so they stood up and said this is wrong. this is why. this is why this adherence to the constitution. because the constitution was based on the simple truth that if government has too much power, it almost always ends up destructive. our framers knew better than to rely on good people being in government to take care of us. they understood that government's power in order for us to have freedom and prosperity necessarily had to be limited, not because we're antigovernment. of course we need a government.
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who provides for our national defense? who is supposed to secure our borders when we're having this immigration debate? these are important things our government needs to do, but if you give it too much power, it leads to these abuses. this is why the constitution was so wise to limit the power of the federal government to its enumerated powers and lead to the government closest to the people most of the powers. and i think we should reexamine all these decisions that have been made that have expanded the scope and power of our government. i don't know how many people are aware of this, but early next year, every single one of you is going to have to buy insurance, health insurance that the government says is good enough. maybe not the insurance you're getting today that you're happy with. and if you don't buy that insurance, you are going to owe the i.r.s. some money. that's a tax to me. the same i.r.s. that has shown a propensity to target people based on their political leanings. this is who we even power through obamacare. so this is what's going on here.
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it's not just one scandal at the i.r.s. it's about a culture of hardball politics. i think in the days to come, we're going to learn a lot more about it and we're not going to like what we learn. for example, you think about some of our most precious freedoms, the first amendment right to free speech. think about if you're a reporting at the associated press. think about if you are a source unrelated to national security to the associated press. think about if you're really a whistle-blower, someone who is blowing the whistle on government activity because you work in the government and you think what the government is doing is wrong. buy this that for a second. now all of a sudden what are you afraid of? i'm not calling that reporter back because their phone might be tapped. my number may show up on their records because the justice department has just shown that they're willing to do that. think about the chilling effect that that sends up and down the government. if there is wrongdoing somewhere in the government right now, people are probably afraid to blow the whistle because they're afraid that they are being surveilled by the justice department or that the person they're talking to is being
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surveilled. that's how outrageous this is. think about people that are thinking about getting involved in the political process, contributeing to a group or speaking out, donating to a campaign or a candidate as they are allowed to do under the constitution. they don't want to be the next van der sloot. they don't want to be the next guy being targeted. they don't want to be the next person being smeared on a web site. this is unacceptable. this is outrage. every single member of this body should be outraged by this behavior. this culture of intimidation, this hardball politics tactics, we cannot stand for this. and i hope we will be united in condemning this and ensuring we get to the bottom of this with significant investigations and hearings from the committees in the senate that have jurisdiction on the matter. i yield the floor, mr. president.
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mr. rubio: mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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mrs. boxer: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from california. mrs. boxer: mr. president, i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the senate will proceed to executive session to consider the following nominations, which the clerk will report. the clerk: william h. orrick
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iii of the district of columbia to be judge for the northern district of california. department of health and human services, marilyn b. tavenner of virginia to be administrator of the centers for medicare and medicaid services. mrs. boxer: mr. president, what ised order in terms of the time for the votes i votes? the presiding officer: the time until 4:30 is equally divided. box obama will there be a vote at -- mrs. boxer: will there be a vote at 4:30? the presiding officer: there will. mrs. boxer: thank you very much. there will be two votes, i understand. well, there is this is a very good day for me because we not only had a vote on our water resources bill which is so important to this economy and jobs and businesses all over this great nation, but finally we're getting a vote on an excellent nominee to be united states district judge for the northern district of california, william h. orrick iii.
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mr. orrick was approved by the senate judiciary committee with bipartisan support and his appointment to the northern district would fill a seat in a judiciary emergency district. so we really need to move on this, and i'm most grateful for getting this opportunity today. the caseload in the northern district is 24% above the national average, at 631 waited filings per judgeship. civil cases that go to trial in the northern district now take over 34 amongsts to get to trial -- 34 months to get to trial, up from 21 months just a year ago. we know that justice delayed is justice denied. and so this is justice delayed. and i.t. not good for our country -- and it's not good for corn muccountry. that's why i'm so excited that we're finally getting to vote. he brings a depth of experience which will make him a tremendous
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asset to the northern district court. mr. orrick received his bachelor's degree from yale university and his law degree from boston college and graduated cum laude from both schools. law school he spent five years providing pro bono legal services for low-income clients in the state of georgia and then mr. orrick returned home to the bay area and he joined a very prominent san francisco firm where he spent 25 years as an associate, a partners and then the head of the firm's employment litigation practice. in 2009 mr. orrick joined the department of justice as deputy assistant attorney general in the civil division. his primary duty at the justice department was to oversee the office of immigration litigation. representing the united states in all matters of immigration last yea mr. orrick considers service to the community to be a hallmark
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of his legal career. he spent 11 years as chancellor and legal advisor to the episcopal diocese of california and 13 years working with the good samaritan family resource center, a low-income housing, nonprofit in san francisco. this is a man who has given back over and over and over again. and at his law firm he supervised much of the firm's pro bono work, for which he received the san francisco bar association's outstanding lawyer and public service award. the american bar association, they found that mr. orrick is unanimously well-qualified to be a federal judge. it just so happens that today is bill orrick's 60th birthday and i can think of no better gift than for us to finally act on this nomination, and i urge my colleagues to cast an "aye" vote. i think it is a vote that you will be proud of into the future. and i am -- i would yield the floor at this time. i would say -- is my colleague going to speak at this time?
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i would yield the floor at this time. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. kaine: i rise today in support of a nomination as well, the other vote that we'll be casting beginning at 4:00 is on the nomination of marilyn tavenner from virginia to be the head of the centers for medicaid and medicare services, c.m.s. and i'm so excited that we're voting on this matter today. c.m.s. is the largest line-item in the federal budget. it is large irthan the department of defense because both medicaid and medicare are both significant items. but we have not had a confirmed administrator of c.m.s. in the united states since 2006. we have been operating this program that tens of millions of vulnerable americans rely on on a daily basis with the ssess significance of -- with the cessatio--with a succession of e streartz. i am excited that we're facing that vote today.
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a few words about the nominee, marilyn tavenner. first, her experience. marilyn is from a rural community in south side, virginia. she has started her career as a nurse and served as a nurse at partisan hospitals, first rural and then urban hospitals in virginia for many years. her leadership skills and tax rates were recognized and she became a nursing supervisor, attaining greater education along the way. and at one point she was work at a hospital in virginia that lost their c.e.o., and as the board wrestled with who should be an interim c.e.o., whether they should be a search or bring someone in from the outside, it was suggested that marilyn might be the person to do it. well, she wasn't interim c.e.o. for long before the board decided that she was in fact the person who should run the hospital. she then had a career of running a hospital, multiple hospitals and worked for a chain running an entire region of hospitals and then eventually became a vice president for h.c.a.
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running all of their outpatient surgery centers in the united states. at that point i reached out to marilyn. i asked her to be my secretary of health and human services. marilyn performed in an exam pillarry way in -- exemplary way helping me tackle all manner of health and human services challenges, some that she had significant background in. nursing education, for example; others that might have been new, cessation of smoking. and some that were in the human services portfolio: foster care and mental health reform. in all those areas marilyn proved herself to be very able. she has been essentially the chief operating deputy at c.m.s. since early 2010. she was the number two at c.m.s. to the administrator nominee, donald burwick, a nominee never confirmed by the senate. in that role, she worked closely
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with donald burwick and did wonderful work within c.m.s. through the challenging time of drafting passing and the i implementation of the affordable care act. she is the right job for three reasons. if you care about patients, marilyn is your person. marilyn, through her work whether as a nurse, hospital administrator or regional health care executive or cabinet secretary or c.m.s. administrator has never forgotten it is fundamentally about patients and before we get to health care we have to care about health. marilyn brings a nurse's attitude. what a great thing it would be to have a nurse as the agency director of medicare and medicaid. she brings a nurse's mentality and will do that first and every day on the job. strong c.m.s. administrator is she is an expert at finding savings and finding ways to reduce and control costs.
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we know in the country that we spend too high a percentage of our g.d.p. on health care. 18% to 19% of our g.d.p. on health care. the next nations in the world -- switzerland and the others -- would spend 11% and 12%. we have a system that produces spectacular professionals and procedures that are second to none in the world. but we don't live as healthy as other nations and some of our outcomes aren't quite as strong and we spend too much. so one of the things that we talk about on this floor all the time are budgetary issues, and what are the right ways that the federal government can find savings in our own programs. but also, mr. president, if you do innovative things in medicaid and medicare that would save money, those also become examples that can be learned throughout the health care industry to help us find appropriate savings. when i was governor and we were dealing with the national recession and we were having to make cuts, there was no one in my cabinet or no other senior official that i had who worked with me who was more creative and compassionate about trying
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to find targeted ways to achieve savings as marilyn tavenner. she is a wiz at this, and yet never sacrifices her focus on patient care which was the primary attribute of hers that i mentioned. as we wrestled with medicaid and medicare and the growth of those budgetary items, and we need to find ways to try to deal with them, i couldn't think of a better person than marilyn tavenner to be in that position. the last attribute of hers that i think is really an amazing one and a reason i support her is that she is a creative person and she's always driven by finding true results. i could tell numerous stories from my time as governor, her efforts to successfully ban smoking in restaurants and bars to improve our health. her efforts to help us improve our foster care system outcomes, to train more nurses and expand the number of physicians in the state. the story i'm going to tell is about one. it was a shame for virginia but
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marilyn helped us solve it by being creating and focusing on results, what we need at the national level. here is a conundrum about virginia. when i was elected governor we were in the top ten in income but in infant mortality we were 35. it didn't match up. it should be doing better in infant mortality. that had occurred to governors before me. this doesn't make sense. why would we not be a better state when it comes to the health of our newborns? i gave marilyn the challenge because i didn't know the answer and i didn't know what to do -- but i gave her the challenge as my health and human services secretary, the number one thing i want to you do during my single four-year term as governor -- do anything else you want but the number one thing i want to you do is help us figure out a way to dramatically reduce our infant mortality rate. others had made the effort, and the other efforts hadn't really produced any results.
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but largely through a creative and exhaustive analysis of data, why did we have a problem, marilyn approached the challenge. she figured out why we had the problem. she figured out the myths and the facts and separated the myths aside. she devised a very targeted strategy for dealing with the particular reasons we had a problem. and lo and behold within a very few years this intractable challenge we had in virginia of an unacceptably high infant mortality rate began to dramatically change and the changes continued because the kinds of changes that marilyn put into the system are the kinds of things that no one would ever want to undo. marilyn's experience, her focus on patients from her background as a nurse, her spectacular success at mart cost cutting -- at smart cost cutting but then especially her proven capacity to be creative and innovative reaching results merit our support for her. i'm excited we'll be casting this vote today.
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i think the fact that the united states will have a confirmed c.m.s. administrator who can then have that confirmation and really plow forward on important initiatives will be to the good of this country. thank you, mr. president, and i yield back the floor. noting the absence of other members -- or the absence of a quorum, i bring that to the attention of the chair. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia. mr. kaine:i ask unanimous consent to vitiate the quorum call. i ask unanimous consent that the time during the quorum before the votes be charged equally to both sides. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kaine: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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is is
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the presiding officer: the senator from iowa. without objection. mr. grassley: i'd like to take this opportunity that i have the floor to do two things. one thing that will be business for later on today on judge orrick, speak on that nomination, and then i'd like to speak on another matter. i rise in opposition to
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mr. orrick's nomination to be district judge of the northern district california. and so i'll explain my vote to my colleagues. before i discuss the nomination, i usually update my colleagues on where we stand on judicial nominations. thus far, the senate has confirmed 182 district and circuit court nominees. we have defeated two in the united states senate, so we have a record of passing of the presidential nominees for judgeships 187 and not allowing two to go forward. that's an average of about 989 approval rating. i think it's a pretty good indication that the senate's doing its job and not stopping nominees from moving forward. so far this year, the senate has
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confirmed 16 of those 180-some nominees that i just spoke about. today if mr. orrick is confirmed, we will confirm the 17th nominee this year. at this stage in president bush's second term -- so i'm comparing that second term to senator -- or president obama's second term. during president bush's second term, only four were confirmed. so we have approved 17 in a comparable period of time for president obama whereas there were only four approved for president bush by this time. this president is, i think, being treated fairly, as the senate should be treating the president. the president has recently submitted a few moreinee that are new names to the senate. i know that i have been
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reminding him in speeches like this in the past that we can't do anything about vacancies without the senate first -- or the president first sending up nominees. but again, even if the recent nominations -- even with these recent nominations that the president has hurried up here, we still have 61 of 85 nominations that we have no names from the white house, so nearly three out of every four vacancies of federal judges in the united states, there is no nominee for us to work with. so again, i urge the president to get those names up here, and for judicial emergencies, which is -- ought to have a prior consideration, only eight of 35 of those emergency seats have a nominee. so i just wanted to set the record straight.
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again, i will be voting no on mr. orrick's nomination. he will pass the senate, i'm sure, regardless of my vote, and this reason. i was troubled by his intervention in utah, arizona, south carolina, and alabama. in those states, he led the effort to strike down the statutes in those states addressing the federal government's failure to enforce immigration laws. we're in the middle of marking up a comprehensive immigration bill. it is clear that enforcement is a problem. i and some of my colleagues would like to strengthen enforcement, but mr. orrick was out there leading the effort to maintain the weak status quo. i don't know why -- i don't know why that should lead to a bench. i was also disappointed in mr. orrick's responses to many of my questions both addressed
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at the hearing and in follow-up questions that i submitted for his answer in writing. at his hearing, i asked him a number of questions that he said he couldn't answer at the hearing, but he would familiarize himself with the issues, and i offered to submit those questions in writing to provide mr. orrick the opportunity to answer them, a courtesy this committee commonly extends. after granting mr. orrick the courtesy, i was disappointed that he still failed to answer many of my questions, so i extended the courtesy a second time, offering mr. orrick the opportunity to provide a responsive answer. unfortunately, the answers he provided to my second set of questions were nonanswers. now i understand that this is not unusual for nominees to claim that they are unable to answer a particular question, but i must say that the degree of mr. orrick's
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nonresponsiveness rose to the level well above what's typically the case with nominees. so the rest of my statement i'm going to put in the record on this nominee, and i am going to urge my colleagues to vote no, but i assume that he will be approved. i want to take a few minutes longer than i just did on that judge to discuss the president's nominee for secretary of labor, tom perez. mr. perez is not unknown to the united states senate, or you might say to the country as a whole now that he has been assistant attorney general for a long time. his tenure as head of the civil rights division has been marked by controversy, and that is, in my words, putting it pretty mildly. he was confirmed to his current post of civil rights under
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assistant attorney general by a vote of 72-22. i was among those who supported his nomination to lead the civil rights division, so i have voted for this person once already, but unfortunately based on the reasons that i'll outline, i have come to regret that vote. there are a number of issues about mr. perez' record that should give my colleagues pause, but today i want to focus on the investigation i have been conducting with my colleague in the house, mr. issa, chairman of the oversight and governmental affairs committee in that other body, as well as mr. goodlatte, chairman of the house judiciary committee. i want to share with my colleagues the role that mr. perez played in the quid pro quo between the city of st. paul, minnesota, and the department of justice here in washington where the department here agreed not to join two false claims cases in exchange
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for the city of st. paul withdrawing its case from the supreme court in a case called manger versus gallagher. mr. perez' actions in this case are extremely troubling for a number of reasons. in other words, if an individual takes extraordinary action to get a city to withdraw a case that's already on the docket of the supreme court, that's pretty serious intervention. first and foremost at this point, no one disputes this point. the fact that mr. perez orchestrated the entire arrangement. he manipulated the supreme court docket so that his favored legal theory called disparate impact theory would evade ee view by the -- review by the high court. in the process, mr. perez left a whistle-blower twisting in the
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wind. those are the facts, and even mr. perez doesn't dispute those facts. the fact that mr. perez struck a deal that potentially squandered up to $200 million of taxpayers in order to preserve the disparate impact theory that he favored is, of course, extremely troubling in and of itself, but in addition to the underlying quid pro quo, the evidence uncovered in our investigation revealed mr. perez sought cover-up -- to cover up the fact that the exchange even took place. and finally, let me emphasize that this should concern all of my colleagues. when mr. perez testified under oath about this case, both to congressional investigators and during his confirmation hearing,
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mr. perez told yet a different story. the question but unavoidable conclusion is that -- is that the story mr. perez told is simply not supported by the evidence. so i will start by reviewing the underlying quid pro quo. in the fall of 2011, the department of justice was poised to join a false claims act lawsuit against city of st. paul. the career lawyers -- when i use the word career lawyers, these folks are not political appointees. the career lawyers in the u.s. attorney's office in minnesota were recommending that the department of justice join this false claims case. the career lawyers, even in the civiiv atai case. and the career lawyers in the
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department of housing and urban development were also recommending that the department of justice join in this false claims case. and why is that important? because the government participating in a false claims case makes that a better case than just the individual that brings it. but this was also -- what i just described to you was all before mr. perez got involved. at about the same time, the supreme court agreed hear the case called magner versus gallagher. the city of st. paul was challenging the use of the disparate impact theory under the fair housing act. the disparate theory is a mechanism mr. perez and the civil rights division have been using in lawsuits against banks for their lending practices. if that theory were undermined
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by the supreme court, it would likely spell trouble for mr. perez's lawsuits against the banks. so mr. perez approached the lawyers handling the magner case and he cut a dl. the department of justice agreed not to join two false claims cases in exchange for the city of st. paul withdrawing magner from the supreme court. in early february, 2012, mr. perez even flew to st. paul to finalize the deal. the next week, the department of justice declined the first false claim case called the niewl case -- newell case. the next day the city of st. paul withdrew the magner case from the supreme court. so everybody thought the deal was settled. now there are a couple of aspects about this deal that i
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want to emphasize. first, as i mentioned, the evidence makes clear that mr. perez took steps to cover up the fact that he had bartered away the false claims cases. coverups aren't good in government. on january 10, 2012, mr. perez called the line attorney in the u.s. attorney's office regarding the declining memo in the newell case. just to remind my colleagues, newell was the case the same career attorneys were strongly recommending the united states join before mr. perez got involved. by the time of this phone call in january, 2012, mr. perez was well on his way towards orchestrating this quid pro quo that i have described. so mr. perez then called the line attorney, mr. greg
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brooker, and instructed him not to discuss the magner case in the memo that he prepared outlining the reasons for the decision not to join that false claims case. and here's what he said. hey, greg -- this is a quote -- hey, greg, this is tom perez calling you -- excuse me, calling you you at 9:00 on tuesday. i got your message. the main thing i wanted to ask you, i spoke to some folks in the civil division yesterday and wanted to make sure that that the declination memo that you spent to the civil division and i'm sure it probably already does this, but it doesn't make any mention of the magner case. is just a memo on the merits of the two cases that are under review in the ketam context.
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end of that conversation. now, approximately one hour later, mr. perez sent mr. brookers followup email writing -- quote -- "i left you a detailed voice message. call me if you can after you have a chance to review the voice mail" -- end of quote. several hours later mr. perez sent another followup email, -- quote -- "were you able to listen to my message? end of quote. now, mr. perez's voice mail was quite clear and obvious. he told mr. brooks, make sure that the declination memo doesn't make any mention of the magner case. it is just a memo on the merits of the two cases, end of quote. now, what could be more clear than that? in fact, mr. perez himself sent
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an e-mail less than an hour later explaining that he had left a detailed voice mail for mr. brooker. yet when congressional investigators asked mr. perez why he left the voice mail, he told an entirely different story. here's what he told the investigators. quote, "what i mean to communicate was, it is time to bring this to closure. and if the only issue that is standing in the way of how you talk about magner, then don't talk about it" -- end of quote. well, i hope you're listening and you say to yourself, give me a break. this is just plainly not what he said in his voice mail. mr. perez, i was born at night but i wasn't born last night. he didn't say anything about being concerned with the delay.
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he said -- quote -- "make sure you don't mention magner. it is just a memo on the merits." and that's emphasized. end of quote. his intent was crystal clear. mr. perez also testified that mr. brooker called him back the next day and refused to omit the discussion of the magner case that was being withdrawn from the supreme court. according to mr. perez, he told mr. brooker during this call to -- quote, unquote -- "follow the normal process." but, again, this story is just not supported by the evidence. one month later after mr. perez flew to minneapolis to personally seal the deal with the city, a line attorney in the civil division emailed his superior to outline -- quote, unquote -- "additional facts
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about the deal. point six read, u.s. attorney minnesota, that's abbreviated here, u.s. attorney minnesota, considers it, underlined, nonnegotiable that its office will include a discussion of the supreme court case and the policy issues in its declination memo" -- end of quote. if mr. perez's story were true and the issue was resolved on january 11, then why one month later would the united states attorney's office need to emphatically state that it would not hide the fact that the exchange took place. thank god for honest line attorneys, career attorneys. now, as i just mentioned, mr. perez flew to minneapolis to finalize the deal on february 3. and i would think -- you would think that a deal of this
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magnitude would be memorialized in a detailed written agreement. after all, you can't even rent a car without signing a detailed agreement. but was this agreement written down? no, it wasn't. after mr. perez finalized the deal, the career attorney asked if there was going to be a written agreement. what was mr. perez's response? he said -- quote -- "no, just oral discussions. word was your bond" -- end of quote. now, once again, the people listening to this are probably saying to themselves, can you believe that? here is mr. perez. he has just orchestrated a deal where the united states declined to join a case worth of up to $200 million to the federal treasury in exchange for the city of st. paul withdrawing a case from the supreme court. and when the career lawyers
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asked if this deal will be written down, he says no, you're -- your word was your bond. now, as everyone knows, the reason you make arrangements like this in writing is so that there's no disagreement down the road about what the parties agreed to. as it turns out, there was, in fact, a disagreement about the terms of this unwritten deal. the lawyer for the city of st. paul, mr. lillihaag, told congressional investigators on january 9, approximately one month before the deal was finalized, mr. perez assured him that h.u.d. would be helpful if the newell case proceeded after the department of justice declined to intervene.
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mr. lillihaag told investigators that on february 4, the day after they finalized the deal, mr. perez told him that h.u.d. had begun assembling information to assist the city in a motion to dismiss the newwells' complaint as original source grounds. but according to mr. lillihaag this assistance disappeared after the lawyers in the civil division learned about it. now, let me tell you the significance of that. mr. perez represents the united states. mr. newell is bringing a case on behalf of the united states. mr. perez is talking to lawyers on the other side and he tells them after the united states declines to join the case we will give you information to help you defeat mr. newell who is bringing the case on behalf of the united states.
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mr. newell, the whistle-blower, was left hanging out to dry by mr. perez. in effect, mr. perez is offering in that statement to give the other side information to help defeat his own client. i recognize this is a significant allegation, and mr. perez was asked about it under oath, his response, mr. perez said -- quote -- "no, i don't recall ever suggesting that." so on -- on the one hand is mr. lillihaag who says mr. perez made this offer first in january and again on february 4, but the assistance disappeared after the lawyers in the civil division caught wind of it. on the other hand, is mr. perez, who testified under oath i don't recall ever having made that offer. who should we believe? well, the documents support
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mr. lillihaag's version of events. on february 7, the line attorney sent an email to the director of civil fraud section and relayed a conversation the assistant u.s. attorney in minnesota had with mr. lillihaag. according to him, the line attorney wrote that there were two additional items that were part of the deal that is not a deal, and one of those two items was this, -- quote -- "h.u.d. will provide material to the city in support of their motion to dismiss the original source grounds" -- end of quote. internal emails show when the career lawyers learned of this promise, they strongly disagreed with it and they conveyed their concerns to tonyl division. during his transscribed interview, mr. west testified that it would have been
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inappropriate to provide this material outside of the normal discovery channels. mr. west said -- quote -- "i just know that that wasn't going to happen, and it didn't happen" -- end of quote. in other words, it's this simple. when lawyers at the civil division learned of this offer, they shut down that offer. the documentary evidence shows the events transpired exactly as mr. lillihaag said they did. mr. perez offered to provide the other side with information that would help them defeat whistle-blower newell in his case and that case was on behalf of the united states. and the taxpayers, and possibly $200 million. well, i imagine that this is
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simply stunning. the lack of common sense that the american taxpayers hear about this. when they hear about it. mr. perez represents the united states. any lawyer would tell you it is highly inappropriate to offer to help the other side deat the client. now, this brings me to my final point -- points that i want to highlight for my colleagues. even though the department traded away mr. newell's case, mr. perez has defended his decisions in part by claiming mr. newell still had his day in court. what mr. perez admits from his story is that mr. newell's case was dismissed precisely because the united states was not a party, no longer a party to it. after the u.s. declined to join the case, the judge dismissed mr. newell's case based upon the legal language public disclosure
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bar, finding he was not, again, legal source, the original source of the information to the government. i want to remind my colleagues that we recently amended the false claims act precisely to prevent an outcome like this. specifically, that amendment made clear that the justice department can contest the original source dismissal even if it fails to intervene as it did in this case. so the department didn't merely decline to intervene, which is bad enough, but, in fact, it affirmatively chose to leave mr. newell all alone in this case that mr. newell filed for the benefit of the united states. and, of course, that is the whole point. that is why it was so important for the city of st. paul to make sure that the united states did not join the case. that is why the city was willing
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to trade away a strong case before the supreme court. the city knew that if the united states joined the action, the case would almost certainly go forward. conversely, the city knew that if the united states did not join the case and chose mott to contest the original source, it would likely get dismissed. think about that a while. $200 million possibly down the drain. the department trades away a case worth millions of taxpayers' dollars. they did it precisely because of the impact the decision would have on the litigation. they knew that the result of their -- as a result of their decision, the whistle-blower would get dismissed based upon original source grounds, since they didn't contest it. and not only that, mr. perez went so far as to offer to provide documents to the other side that would help them defeat
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mr. newell on behalf of mr. perez's client. that client was the united states. and yet when the congress starts asking questions, they have the guts to say, quote, "we didn't do anything improper because mr. newell still had his day in court." end of quote. well, he should have had his day in court and probably would have if they hadn't of cut of limbs out from under him. this brings me to my last point of the that has to do with the strength of the case. throughout our investigation, the department has tried to defend mr. perez's actions by claiming the case was marginal or weak. once again, the documents tell a far different story. before mr. perez got vorvetiond the career lawyers -- before mr. perez got involved, the career lawyers wrote a memo recommendinrecommending intervee
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case. they describe st. paul's actions as -- quote -- "a particularly egregious example of false certification." end of quote. in fact, the career lawyers in minnesota felt so strongly about the case that they took the unusual steps of flying here to washington, d.c., to meet with h.u.d. officials. and h.u.d., of course, agreed that the united states should intervene. but that was before mr. perez got involved in the case. the documents made clear that career lawyers considered this a strong case. the department has claimed that mike hertz, the department's expert on false claims act, considered it a weak case. in fact, two weeks ago mr. perez testified before my colleagues in the senate help committee that mr. hertz -- quote -- "had
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a very immediate and visceral reaction that this was a weak case." but what do the documents show in they tell ?they tell a diffe. mr. hertz knew about the case in 2011. two months later, an official took notes. that official wrote down mr. hertz's reaction. this official wrote -- quote -- "mike" -- referring to mr. her mr. hertz. "mike, odd. looks like buying off st. paul. should be whether there is a legit reason to decline as to past practice." end of quote. the next day that same official e-mailed the associate attorney general here in town and said --
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quote -- "mike hertz brought up the st. paul disparate impact case in which the solicitor general just filed an amy cause brief in the supreme court. he's concerned about the recommendation that we declined to intervening in two cases against st. paul." end of quote. so you got these documents appearing to show that mr. hertz's primary concern was not the strength of the case, as mr. perez led senate colleagues to believe. mr. hertz was concerned the quid pro quo mr. perez ultimately arranged was in fact improper. and again, in his words, it -- quote -- "looks like buying off st. paul." end of quote. and just last week the department -- justice department
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sent my staff a critical 33-page slide showing the case against st. paul. in that document, the career lawyers made their strong case for intervention. justice department to intervene with newell to bring this case about about. the department failed to provide this crat critical document to e committee. we only learned about this from a recent interview we had with h.u.d. employee. why do i say that this is a critical document? because this document makes abundantly clear that career lawyers did not view this case as marginal; that mr. perez wants you to believe that other people in the department, experts on false claims, thought it was a marginal or weak case. and, obviously, he didn't view it as a weak case.
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as mr. perez testified before the help committee. far from it. here's how the career lawyers summed up the case in one of the final slides of this document. now, these are quotes. "the city repeatedly and knowingly misrepresented its compliance with section 3 of the -- to obtain federal funds." "tentative conclusions: the city has long been aware of its obligation under section 3." "the city repeatedly told h.u.d. and others that it was in compliance with section 3." "the city has failed to substantially comply with section 3." end of quote. does that sound like career lawyers describing a marginal or a weak case? of course not. yet that is what mr. perez told my colleagues on the help committee.
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mr. president, my colleagues are well-aware of how i feel about the whistle-blower protection act and my colleagues now how i feel about protecting whistle-blowers who have the courage to step forward, often at great risk to their own careers. but this is about much more than the whistle-blower who was left dangling by mr. perez. this is about the fact that mr. perez manipulated the rule of law in order to get a case removed from the supreme court docket. but, most importantly, this is about the fact that when congress started asking questions about this case and when mr. perez was called upon to offer his testimony under oath, he chose to tell an entirely different story. and the unavoidable conclusion is that that story he told is flatly not supported by the
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facts. we have to demand more. we have to demand that when individuals are called upon to answer questions before the senate, that they shoot straight regardless of the consequences. i do not believe that mr. perez gave us the straight story when he was called upon to answer questions about this case, and for that reason i recommend, first of all, that my colleagues study these issues. and there's others that are going on right now between holder -- attorney general holder and the house government oversight committee, as he's there today. there's a lot in this that needs to be brought out about this nomination before we vote on it. and i -- and this evidence i give you is just part of the story. thank you, and i yield the floor. mr. hatch: mr. president? the presiding officer: the
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senator from utah. mr. hatch: mr. president, i rise today to speak in support of the nomination of marilyn tavenner to serve as administrator of the centers for medicare and medicaid services, or c.m.s. one of the largest agencies ever in the history of the country. for a number of reasons, c.m. senior senator has been without a --c.m.s. has been without a confirmed administrator since 2006. it is a the world's largest insurer, processing over a billion medicare and medicaid claims a year and has a budget of nearly $1 trillion. it also provides services to over 100 million of our nation's most vulnerable citizens receiving medicare and medicaid. so clearly this is a critical agency that needs a strong leader at the helm. thus far from what i've seen, ms. tavenner has the qualifications to be that kind of a leader. leadershe has clinical experience from being a nurse,
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executive experience from being -- well, from serving as a hospital administrator and hands-on operational experience from her time as secretary of health and human resources for the state of virginia. that rare combination of skills will be essential when heading an agency as diverse as c.m.s. there is a reason she was voted out of the senate finance committee on a voice vote and had the house majority leader come of it in her behalf. -- come testify in her behalf. she was apoiptded as the deputy administrator of c.m.s. since november of 2011 she has served as the acting administrator. so far she's shown a willingness to work with members of both parties, which is a welcome development, particularly under this administration. at a time when the secretary of the department of health and human services is engaging in activities that are less than transparent and potentially i
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illegal, it is even more important that an agency as vital as c.m.s. be headed by someone with ethics and infor example grit. this agency's greatest challenges lie ahead. one of the biggest problems facing c.m.s. in the near future is implementation of the federal and state-based health insurance exchanges established under obamacare. these exchanges are supposed to be brought online later this year, but there are numerous obstacles that will have to be addressed. by most indications, it would take a miracle for the exchanges town and running on time. to date c.m.s. has not been able to provide satisfactory answers to that you will of questions posed by -- to a number of questions posed by myself and others. we have yet to see a breakdown of the budget for the federally facilitated exchange. we still know very little about the operational details of the
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exchanges and even less about how people will enroll. these are serious issues, mr. president, and with this system you're asking american families to entrust the fate of their health care services to the empty words and deeds of an administration that has repeatedly shown the complete inability to be held accountable. more importantly, with the recent revelations of potentially criminal behavior at the internal revenue service, i am very concerned about trusting that agency's ability to work with c.m.s. and h.hh.s. to deliver benefits for americans through the exchanges. almost every day we see new indications that the health law is an unmitigated disaster. we're already seeing evidence that health insurance premium costs are continuing to rise and are projected to be, on average, 32% higher than the individual market. at the same time, according to the numbers released yesterday by the congressional budget
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office, by 2019 almost 14 million americans who would have employer-provided coverage will no longer have it. let me be very clear. obamacare is fundamentally flawed. the only real way to fix it is to repeal it and start again. but until we can accomplish that goal, we need to make sure that we're protecting our fellow citizens the best we can from all of the negative effects of this law. in addition to overseeing this massive new expansion of benefits, ms. tavenner will also be charged with helping to ensure the longevity and solvency of the existing medicare trust fund, which is projected to go bankrupt in 2024. all told, between now and 2030, 76 million baby boomers will become eligible for medicare. even factoring in deaths over
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that period the program will grow from approximately 47 million beneficiaries today to roughly 80 million beneficiaries in 2030. maintaining the solvency of the medicare program while continuing to provide care for ever-increasing beneficiary base is going to require courageous solutions. i've had several conversations with ms. tavenner about the need for structural entitlement reform to ensure that these programs are here for future generations. i sincerely hope that we will continue to make progress on these critical issues. overseeing a massive bureaucracy like the one at c.m.s. is not a job for the faint of heart. i will be keeping a close eye on ms. tavenner as she takes thes. if she is to be successful, she'll have to raoeldz -- realize she can't do it alone. she'll have to work with members
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of congress of both parties. i hope she will do so. i believe she will. thus far i have reason to believe that she will be one of the best leaders we can possibly have in the government. however, if under her leadership c.m.s. continues what has become a disappointing pattern in this administration, not responding to legitimate congressional inquiries and throwing promises of transparency by the wayside, i will use my full weight as my position as the ranking member on the senate finance committee to hold her and others fully accountable. i don't think i'm going to have to do that. i actually think she's that good. mr. president, i appreciate ms. tavenner's willingness to serve in this difficult position. and while i still have many concerns about the policies ofte direction c.m.s. is heading, i plan to vote in favor of her confirmation because she has the
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ability and potential to be a real leader and already has exemplified that in many ways. and i encourage my colleagues to vote for her. i think marilyn tavenner is the right prescription at the right time to help with h.h.s. and also with c.m.s., which is, like i say, one of the largest agencies ever in the history of the company and of the world. she's a good woman. she's dedicated. she has the ability. and i believe that she will do a great job. with that, i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from virginia -- the senior senator from virginia is recognized. mr. warner: mr. president, i want to, first of all, commend the senator from utah for his comments. we all know the senator from utah, who like myself, has a
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real interest in making sure that our government is more efficient and more effective in its operations. and know as well that the senator from utah has not always been necessarily supportive of the health care reform, the affordable care act. but i really want to appreciate the senator from utah's comments about marilyn tavenner. i've known marilyn tavenner for 25 years. i think while we may disagree about the effectiveness of the affordable care act, we do know one thing. we want c.m.s. to be the most efficient, effective organization possible. and i really want to commend the senator from utah for his strong endorsement of marilyn tavenner. i think he spoke eloquently about her background. i'm going to try to add a few
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comments, but i didn't want him to get away without my thanking him for his comments. mr. president, i rise today to join this bipartisan show of support for the president's nominee to lead the center for medicare and medicaid services, marilyn tavenner. she comes to the floor this afternoon on a fairly unusual circumstance, considering some of the nominees we are considering. she came actually with a unanimous voice vote from the senate finance committee. she is supported by a number of health care organizations and professionals, including the american hospital association, the seiu, american nurses association, just to name a few. as i mentioned already, i've known marilyn tavenner for 25 years. she's the real deal, and she will be a phenomenal kho*eus to continue to -- a phenomenal choice to continue to lead c.m.s..
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marilyn grew up in south side virginia and worked her way through school. she began her career in health care not as a hospital administrator or an executive, but she began on the front lines as an emergency room nurse. but then through her ability to relate to people and care, she rose to become c.e.o. of a hospital and then a senior executive of a leading health care company. i know as governor, i called upon marilyn on a repeated basis on health care issues that affected virginia. marilyn has always been committed to people and public service, and she took that private-sector knowledge and experience into the public sector even before her tenure with this administration, when she joined a good friend, the senior senator from virginia, tim kaine, when he became governor and served with his administration as the virginia secretary of health. today marilyn has already served at the highest levels of c.m.s.,
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where she's shown her ability to manage and operate one of the largest and most complex agencies in our whole government. by spending most of her career in the private sector, she knows the impact that regulations and rules have on the real world and understands the importance of not just achieving a policy goal but ensuring that it works in practice. as we all know, passing a law like the a.c.a. is a complicated process, particularly a law like this that has generated as much controversy. that means the role of the administrator of c.m.s. to be even handed, fact-based, effective and efficient in i implementing the traumatic transformation of the health care market that will be provided will require a first-class administrator, somebody who understands how to get things done and somebody who is well respected by both sides
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of the aisle. marilyn tavenner clearly fits that bill. she is held in extraordinarily high esteem. we have again heard the ranking member on the finance committee already speak in support of her. she received unanimous support from her, from the finance kp-t. but she -- finance committee but she is also held in extraordinarily high esteem by her peers. in february all the previous living senate confirmed administrators of the c.m.s. -- democrats, republicans, independents -- all of them who have run the organization, agency in the past all sent a letter urging her confirmation noting -- quote -- "it was hard to imagine a candidate more worthy of bipartisan support." so i look forward to voting with what i hope will be an overwhelming majority of my colleagues to confirm marilyn for this very important role a
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little bit later this afternoon. and i know i'm about to give up my time, but i yield to a great new senator, the senator from massachusetts. i know she's going to be speaking about another nominee, someone who i've had the opportunity to visit with a couple of times in a role that may be almost as controversial as being head of c.m.s., being administrator of e.p.a.. i just want to say in my conversations with ms. gina mccarthy, she brings to bring both a breadth of background at the state level working with both democrat and republican administrations. i know the senator from massachusetts is going to speak to her qualifications, but as long as i'm up here i want to add my voice as well that i think ms. mccarthy will be a
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great head of the e.p.a. and look forward to joining the senator from massachusetts in joining her. with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. ms. warren: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from massachusetts is recognized. ms. warren: thank you. i want to start by thanking the senior senator from virginia. both for advancing a nomination that we will vote on this afternoon and for your comments about gina mccarthy. she is, as you say, a quite remarkable person, and she will be a wonderful director of the environmental protection agency, and i very much appreciate your comments about her. and i know ms. mccarthy does as well and the people of massachusetts do as well. thank you. i rise today, mr. president, to do something very simple. i ask my colleagues to give a simple vote to the president's nominee to head the environmental protection agency. this is not fancy or ambitious. it's just a basic principle of good government in our constitutional system. when the founders of our republic came together to write
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the constitution, they knew that the president would need help in administering this great and expansive nation. without help, without a government that was staffed, justice would not be established. our common defense would be threatened. and the blessings of liberty we hoped to secure through our laws would go unfulfilled. the founders of our republic gave to the president the task of nominating individuals to serve and gave us the responsibility to advise on and consent to these appointments. for more than 200 years this process has worked. presidents over the years have nominated thousands of qualified men and women who are willing to serve in key executive branch positions. the senate hasre nominations in a timely fashion and taken up-or-down votes. of course there have been bumps along the way, but we have
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never, never seen anything like this. time and again members of this body have resorted to procedural technicalities and flat-out obstructionism to block qualified nominees. at the moment there are 85 judicial vacancies in the u.s. courts, some of which are classified as judicial emergencies. that's more than double the number of judicial vacancies at the comparable point during president george w. bush's second term, and yet right now there are ten nominees awaiting a vote here in the senate, and they haven't gotten one. but that's not all. the secretary of defense's nomination was hdp for wks and then filibustered. the nominee for the secretary of labor, tom perez, has been held
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up on an obscure technical maneuver. and then of course there is the determined effort to block richard cordray to head the consumer financial protection bureau not because he is unqualified. in fact, he has received praise from industry and consumer groups alike. and even the republicans who block him have praised his fairness and his evenhandedness. no, rich cordray is blocked because some members of this body don't like the agency he heads. they know they don't have the votes to get rid of it or to weaken it, and so instead they are holding the director's nomination hostage. and now we get to gina mccarthy. this past thursday the senate environment and public works committee was scheduled to vote on gina mccarthy's nomination to head the environmental protection agency. right before the scheduled vote, all the republicans ded
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to show up. under senate rules, that meant there was no quorum and that the vote could not take place. the president has done his job. he named an outstanding nominee for the administrator of the environmental protection agency, gina mccarthy. gina has dedicated her professional life to the protection of our public health and to the stewardship of our environment. she was confirmed to her previous position at the e.p.a. as assistant administrator for air and radiation by voice vote without objection. now, just to be clear, this means that most of the members of this chamber have already voted to approve her once before. gina also has a long record of working effectively across party lines. she served under republican and democratic governors alike, including working for governor
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mitt romney, the most recent republican presidential nominee. her record in massachusetts was stellar, and she has done all of us in the commonwealth proud through her service in washington. gina herself has also done her job and more. she has answered a staggering 1,120 questions from the environment and public works committee. that is the largest number of questions ever asked of a nominee facing senate confirmation. to -- to put this in some perspective, four years ago when last confirmed administrator of the e.p.a., lisa jackson, was asked 157 questions during her nomination process. when congress convened in january, many of us, both veterans and newcomers, were concerned that this kind of
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obstructionism would persist in the new congress. we pushed hard for changes to the filibuster rules. we understood the passions on both sides of the issue and we listened to our colleagues. ultimately, the two sides reached a compromise, a compromise that many of us were concerned about. but it included a clear understanding that the democrats would not make substantial changes to the filibuster and, in return, the republicans would not abuse its use. but in the past three months, abuse has been piled on abuse. republicans have prevented votes on judges, on agency heads, and on administration secretaries. this is wrong republicans can vote is nothinge than obstructionism. blocking the business of government, the business of protecting people from cheating
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credit card companies or from mercury in the water or from unfair labor practices, this must stop. the president has done his job. gina has done her job. now it is time for the senate to do its job. gina mccarthy deserves a vote. thank you, mr. president. i yield. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senior senator from new hampshire is recognized. mrs. shaheen: thank you, mr. president. i'm here to join my colleague, senator warren, to also express my frustration about what's happening with the nominees to these critical agencies that are being held up by our colleagues on the other side of the aisle. as senator warren just said very eloquently, last week the republican members of the senate environment and public works committee chose not to appear for the important business of
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considering the nomination of gina mccarthy, and they madethiw minutes notice. and as t result, this action prevented an already overdue vote from taking place as scheduled. well, the refusal to allow a vote on such fundamental business is just unacceptable. the e.p.a. conducts vital work to safeguard public health and protect our environment and yet the agency has been without permanent leadership for months. it's the senate's duty to act in a timely manner on these kinds of vacancies, and it's clear from miss mccarthy's impressive and expansive record that this nominee has earned and deserves a vote. now, i understand and i respect those senators who feel they have to vote against a nominee for substantive reasons. however, this failure to even
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att thursday's meeting and take a vote shows a really alarming level of disregard for the importance of permanent leadership at the e.p.a. and for the senate's confirmation process. as senator warren said, committee republicans have already asked miss mccarthy to answer over 1,100 questions for the record, more than three times what any previous nominee for this position has faced. she's provided 234 pages of answers. and it's past time that the committee held a vote. we need to move forward on filling the position of e.p.a. administrator so that the agency can resume addressing public -- today's public health challenges in the most effective manner. simply put, the type of obstructionism we saw last week has no place in this senate, no
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place in our government, particularly for a position as critical as this one. in addition to its work to reduce harmful pollution at the national level, the e.p.a. plays a vital role in safeguarding public health in our local communities. for example, in my state of new hampshire, testing in 2009 revealed elevated levels of contaminants in the wells of homeowners living in the town of raymond because of their proximity to a superfund site. following this discovery, we worked with the e.p.a., with the state department of environmental services, and with the town of raymond to find a solution that would address the health concerns because the families didn't have safe drinking water. and with the e.p.a.'s support, the town has extended its water lines to ensure these homeowners
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and their families can be provided access to safe, clean drinking water. i had the opportunity to view the progress of this construction project in person last year and i applaud the e.p.a. for working with communities on vital local priorities like this. communities across our country face public health challenges and the e.p.a. plays an important role in addressing these challenges. even now we're working in new hampshire in a similar situation where wells have been contaminated in the town of atkinson. mr. president, we can't continue to delay the senate's responsibilities to provide agencies like the e.p.a. with the leadership they need to operate. and with 30 years of public service in a variety of roles, miss mccarthy has both the experience and the expertise to do the critical job of leading the e.p.a.
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her expansive and lengthy career is rooted in working at the forefront of pressing environmental issues for new england governors of both political parties. most recently, gina mccarthy served in connecticut's department of environmental protection under former republican governor jodie rell. before that, miss mccarthy served five different massachusetts governors, including michael dukakis and mitt romney, the republican party's own nominee for president in the last year's election. now, these diverse work experiences on a broad range of environmental issues have provided miss mccarthy with the firsthand knowledge of environmental and public health challenges that we face. and they're evidence of her ability to work with people on both sides of the aisle to address the problems faced as we look at agencies like the e.p.a.
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miss mccarthy was confirmed by the senate to her current e.p.a. post with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2009 and that just makes the boycott last week even more shocking. in her current role as the assistant administrator for the office of air and radiation, miss mccarthy has worked with environmental advocates and industry leaders to reduce harmful emissions that threaten clean air. these efforts are particularly significant for downwind regions like in new england, where we serve as the tailpipe to the rest of the nation and suffer the effects of pollution from coal-fired power plants in the middle part of the country. i'm sure the president understands this issue. in recognition of her successful tenure, miss mccarthy has received widespread praise from a diverse group of industry leaders who recognize her ability to find common ground and compromise.
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and coming from new hampshire, which is the second most forested state in the nation, i know new hampshire's forest products industry will benefit from an e.p.a. administrator with a strong reputation for constructive dialogue. following miss mccarthy's nomination, donna harmon of the american forest and paper association described her by saying -- and i quote -- "she's very data and fact driven and that's been helpful for us as well as the entire business community." leaders in an array of other sectors have voiced similar appreciation for the way in which miss mccarthy values finding common ground. and heaven knows we could need some -- use some common ground here. robin engle of the american automotive council, praised the care she takes in listening to stakeholders. he said -- quote -- "we look forward to continuing to work with gina mccarthy. she has demonstrated a willingness to listen to the
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views to those dedicated to the agency she's been nominated to lead and to find practical solutions to issues facing the automobile industry." these words all describe a public servant who understands the importance of listening, understanding and bringing stakeholders together. i'm confident that gina mccarthy will be an excellent leader at the e.p.a. she deserves fair consideration. she deserves a timely vote. and i'm pleased that we got news that there will be a rescheduled vote later this week. i urge my colleagues across the aisle to move forward in good faith and give fair consideration to this nominee. the e.p.a. must have a permanent administrator who is an advocate for protecting public health and providing valuable support to our nation's communities. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor.
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the presiding officer: the senior senator from montana is recognized. mr. baucus: mr. president, what is the parliamentary procedure i?-- parliamentary procedure? the presiding officer: the senate's considering the tavenner nomination en bloc and at 4:30, unanimous consent to go to -- to go to -- to move to a vote. mr. baucus: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from montana. mr. baucus: mr. president, i'd like to speak on another matter. over the last five days, as well as on the maryland tavenner -- the marilyn tavenner matter. and, frankly, my remarks will take more than four minutes. so to what degree we can get consent to postpone votes. we'll be working on that while i'm speaking. mr. president, over the past five days, information i can
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describe only as very troubling has emerged about a systematic practice by the i.r.s. to target conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. according to a report released last night by the treasury inspector general for tax administration, the i.r.s. developed and used inappropriate criteria to identify applications from organizations applying for tax-exempt status based -- quote -- "upon their names or policy positions instead of indications of political campaign intervention." in addition, the 48-page report finds that ineffective management at the i.r.s. allowed for this inappropriate practice to stay in place for more than 18 months, resulted in substantial delays in processing certain applications, and allowed unnecessary information requests to be issued. while the inspector general report does not say that the i.r.s. was intentionally partisan, it did find that the
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agency's narrow focus on the criteria -- quote -- "gives the appearance that the i.r.s. is not impartial in conducting its mission." these actions by the i.r.s., if true, are a clear breach of the public's trust. targeting groups based on their political views is not only inappropriate but it is intolerable and unacceptable and it cannot be allowed. i intend to get to the bottom of what happened here. the inspector general's report is just the beginning. there is still many unanswered questions, and the senate finance committee, which has congressional oversight of the i.r.s., has just begun what will be a thorough investigation. mr. president, some are now using this issue to try and score political points. some of my friends across the aisle are claiming that the i.r.s. was just doing what democrats wanted in examining these conservative groups. let me clear up this misperception. i, for one, have never advocated
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targeting conservative groups. this is important so let me be clear. what i have called for in the past, especially in 2010, and continue to call for today is closer examination of any and all groups already granted or applying for tax-exempt status. let me say that again. any and all groups. since the citizens united case decided by the supreme court, there has been a dramatic increase in political organizations masquerading as social welfare groups. we need to make sure that these groups are complying with the i.r.s. political activity rules. any group claiming tax-exempt status under 501-c-4 of the internal revenue code needs to prove that it is following the letter of the law. as "the new york times" noted yesterday -- quote -- "no one has an automatic right to this tax exemption. those seeking one should expect
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close scrutiny from the evading taxes.ensure it is not -- taxes." while i expect the scrutiny from the i.r.s. to be thorough, i also expect it to be administered equally across the board, on conservative and liberal organizations and any inbetween. americans expect the i.r.s. to do its job without passion or prejudice. the i.r.s. can't just pick one group for closer examination and give the other a free pass. but that is apparently what they did here. that was the agencies bigamies take, and now they have to answer for it. the senate finance committee has launched a former bipartisan investigation. a team of investigators from my staff and senator hatch's staff has begun compiling questions and seeking additional documents with the i.r.s. there seems to be some inconsistencies in the timeline regarding who knew what and when, and we will get to the bottom of it. as part of the investigation, i
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went straight to the top and met with acting commissioner steve milney yesterday. it was a tough talk. i told mr. miller the actions of the i.r.s. were inexcusable and warned that he is in for serious questioning from this committee and from others. i told mr. miller the committee demands nothing less than his complete cooperation and total transparency. the finance committee will hold a hearing on tuesday to examine this issue. there needs to be a full accounting of what happened at the i.r.s. and who knew what, when and how long did this practice go on. and what other groups were flagged for additional scrutiny. there is another important question that needs to be asked. is there a fault in the tax code that may have contributed to the i.r.s. taking such unacceptable steps? do we need a better definition of what organizations qualify for in order to qualify for tax exemptions? do we need to revisit the role tax-exempt organizations play in
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our political system? what part of the tax code has to be changed for us to guarantee this overreach never happens again? there are many more questions. this will be an issue we delve into tax reform as well. clearly something is amiss for the i.r.s. to behave the way it did. the actions of the i.r.s. are unacceptable, and people will be held accountable. mr. president, let me take a moment to turn briefly to a related topic. as some of you may know, the finance committee has been working on a comprehensive tax reform for the past two years. we have held more than 30 hearings. we have heard from hundreds of experts about how tax reform can spark economic growth, create jobs and make u.s. businesses more competitive. last thursday, i teamed up with house ways and means chairman dave camp to launch a web site to get even more input directly from the american people. we launched taxreform point gov
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to give folks in montana, michigan and all across america an opportunity to weigh in on tax reform. since the launch of the site less than a week ago, we received thousands of ideas from the american people on how to improve the code. i want to thank all those who shared their ideas and opinions. i encourage more people to log on to taxreform.gov to let us know what you think of the nation's tax system and what it should look like. mr. president, if i might, one other issue i'd like to address, and that's the nomination of marilyn tavenner. mr. president, marilyn tavenner has been nominated to be administrator of the centers for medicare and medicaid services, otherwise known as c.m.s. as head of c.m.s., ms. tavenner would be in charge of administrating medicare, medicaid and the children's health insurance program, among others. roughly one in three americans rely on health coverage under
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the jurisdictions of c.m.s. one in three. this includes 50 million medicare patients, 56 million medicaid patients and more than 5.5 million children through the children's health insurance program. in my home state of montana, 167,000 seniors and 8,300 military retirees rely on medicare alone. marilyn tavenner is an experienced health care professional. she has proven herself to be a strong leader. i believe she is the right woman to lead c.m.s., a view shared by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. ms. tavenner is a proud native virginian, and her congressional delegation, all of them warmly introduced her i all -- not there but in spirit, introduced her at a confirmation hearing before the finance committee last month. democratic senators mark warner and tim kaine, republican house majority leader eric cantor all
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spoke on her behalf. here is what house majority leader kantor said -- "-- cantor said" i differ with a lot of matters with the obama administration on the health care policy, but if there is anyone i trust to help negotiate these challenges, it is marilyn tavenner." three weeks ago, the committee approved ms. tavenner's nomination with a unanimous vote. she has earned the confidence of many of us because of her demonstrated abilities. she started as a nurse, quickly rose up through the ranks to become a hospital administrator, served four years as virginia's secretary of health and human resources before joining c.m.s. in 2010. she has served as acting administrator for the past year and a half. i am confident we'll get a strong vote on this nomination because marilyn tavenner has a reputation of being a pragmatist and a person who doesn't give up. one story i'd like to share here. this is important, mr. president. marilyn was working a night
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shift at an intensive care unit at johnston-willis hospital in richmond, virginia. she was a nurse. at 2:00 a.m., a rescue squad brought in a young woman to the emergency room. she had been in a terrible car accident and crashed through the windshield of her old volkswagen bug. badly injured and having suffered massive blood loss, she was pronounced dead. but miss tavenner and the doctors went to work to revive her. the surgeon on call told reporters -- quote -- "we came up with a game plan. it was right on target. we used about 60 units of blood. marilyn was very supportive in everything. the patient ultimately walked out of the hospital." end quote. that's marilyn tavenner. she doesn't give up. we need that type of leader at c.m.s., believe me. her experience in health care is real, it's varied and it will serve us well in this position. one final note, as someone pointed out. c.m.s. has operated without a confirmed administrator for
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several years, so i am glad we are moving forward with this nomination. we need a confirmed administrator, with all the work she has to do, especially implementing the affordable care act. that was -- in just a few months, the health care marketplaces will be open for enrollment, tax credits and subsidies will be available to help families and small businesses pay for health care. it's a critical time to have someone with ms. tavenner's experience as a confirmed hand in charge of c.m.s. she has done a great job in the past. she will do a great job in the future. i strongly urge all my colleagues, all my colleagues support knee in support of her nomination. mr. president, i yield the floor. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the question occurs on the orrick nomination. is there a second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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